Starc misses out, but Perth start is likely

THE consolation for Mitchell Starc is that he is all but guaranteed to feature in the final and possibly deciding leg of this series in Perth next week.

The tall left-armer from Sydney's western suburbs is, given the inevitability surrounding Shane Watson's scratching again, the surprising omission from Michael Clarke's XI for the second Test against South Africa, starting in Adelaide on Thursday.

And in sacrificing Starc's variation, an element largely lacking in Australia's first Test draw against the Proteas in Brisbane, a sizeable weight has just been thrown on the back of the retained Ben Hilfenhaus.

The Tasmanian is essentially still working on credit points accumulated during a mesmerising resurrection of his international career last summer when his late swing, relentless building of pressure and sagacious length helped him to 27 wickets over four Tests against India, at an average of 17.22. The question was where that Hilfenhaus disappeared to at the Gabba.

Lacking a similar threat and, his technique and pace having run off course, he has been in close consultation with Australia's bowling coach and the man behind his post-Ashes rebuilding, Ali de Winter, in the nine-day break between Tests, in an effort to halt the suspected problem: the slipping of his foot at the point of delivery.

Clarke has clearly been convinced enough to forgo the contrasting input Starc could have provided, not insignificantly the ability to generate rough for off-spinner Nathan Lyon to use. But while Hilfenhaus' durability no doubt played in his favour in the absence of a genuine fifth bowling option - Watson - there is a danger Australia's attack could be exposed as limited.

Starc, like Watson, will remain with the squad and travel straight afterwards to Perth, where he will almost certainly be part of a four-man fast bowling unit and earn a fifth Test start.

The selection of Hilfenhaus is a conservative one and, to paraphrase Clarke, came down to two factors: experience, chiefly at this ground last summer, and endurance. He said nerves had affected all of Australia's bowlers on a first day in Brisbane, where they were flat.

''I think we've got a good combination. We've got a good mixture of aggression but also bowlers who can bowl long spells and dry runs up if required out there on that wicket which, generally in Adelaide, you have to bowl quite tight during periods of the game,'' Clarke said.

''I think we've improved as a bowling unit throughout that whole first Test and I'm confident as a team we'll be better for the hitout in Brisbane and come out and perform better. We had a lot of success last summer [and in Brisbane] I thought we did really well after day one. I thought the bowlers came back really well - we took 14 South African wickets where they took five of ours.''

There will be sharp focus, too, on the visitors' highly rated quicks after they performed below expectations on a Gabba track that gave only marginal assistance. Vernon Philander, who arrived with a formidable 63 wickets in his first 10 Tests, will be particularly eager after walking away at the Gabba with figures of 0-103 - unheard of for him in his brief but brilliant international career.

This story Starc misses out, but Perth start is likely first appeared on WA Today.