Johnson, Siddle likely for UAE Tests

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Australian coach Darren Lehmann confirmed on Sunday that fast bowlers Mitchell Johnson and Peter Siddle are likely to return to their side for the Test and One Day International (ODI) series in the United Arab Emirates.

Left-arm quick Johnson was withdrawn from the Kings XI squad that is currently competing in the Champions League with a rib injury, but joined up with the rest of the Australian squad for the tour of the UAE.

“He’ll be fine to go. Expect him to play the one-dayers, obviously not the T20 but the one-dayers and the Test series,” Lehmann told reporters in Melbourne before the team’s departure.

“We’re lucky enough that in terms of the preparation, he did a fair bit of bowling before (getting injured), so it won’t be an issue.”

With Ryan Harris and James Pattinson – the rest of the pace trio that won their most recent Test against South Africa at Newlands in Cape Town – still injured, Siddle is likely to return to the side alongside Mitchell Starc.

“His speed’s up and we’re really happy with the way he’s tracking,” Lehmann said of Siddle after the 29-year-old has performed well on the County Circuit of late.

“He’s put on some weight, put on some muscle.

“The hardest thing is how many overs they can bowl in the heat.”

Lehman added that the side will look to Starc to add some penetration to the bowling attack with swing – both conventional and reverse.

“We want him to do a bit of both, but we want him to get his speed up there so he make the ball reverse and bowl lots of overs for us,” he said.

In the absence of Shane Watson, Mitch Marsh and Stephen O’Keefe are both in line for a call-up to the side, depending on the actual make-up of the side.

“We always pick according to the conditions,” Lehmann said.

“History shows Australia has sometimes gone and fought the conditions a little bit, and we’re trying not to do that. We know we have to change the way we play in certain countries.

“It’s an Australian curator (groundsman) for the first Test, so it could be a decent wicket.

“I’ve been there before and they (pacemen) can only bowl three or four over spells sometimes,” Lehmann said, hinting that Australia might play an addition spinning allrounder in Glenn Maxwell.

The tour will start with a T20 match in Dubai on October 6.

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