Joe Mennie of the Redbacks bowls during day one of the Sheffield Shield match against the Warriors at the WACA.
Joe Mennie of the Redbacks bowls during day one of the Sheffield Shield match against the Warriors at the WACA. Paul Kane

Mennie gets surprise call-up to Test squad

CRICKET: Joe Mennie made the worst debut by an Australian bowler in one-day international history when he was smacked for 0-82 from his 10 overs in a match against South Africa last month.

The 27-year-old from Coffs Harbour will be hoping for a far better display if he steps out for his debut Test match next week.

The right-arm paceman was the surprise name picked in Australia's 12-man squad for the first Test against the Proteas in Perth starting on Thursday, edging out Jackson Bird.

Mennie will be expected to carry the drinks as 12th man, but with veteran seamer Peter Siddle having battled ongoing back problems, he could yet join Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazelwood in the three-pronged pace attack, alongside incumbent spinner Nathan Lyon.

Mennie had been warming up for day-three action in the Sheffield Shield clash between his adopted state, South Australia, and Western Australia at the WACA when he received the call-up.

"I was a bit taken back, a bit shocked,” he said. "I didn't have time to reflect on it I suppose ... we went straight out in the middle and started playing.”

Mennie took 3-56 from 19 overs in the first innings while bowling to three of his new Australian teammates, Shaun Marsh, Adam Voges and Mitchell Marsh.

He said he felt confident of a good showing if he did get a start.

"I've had some good fortune over here in Perth, games I've played over here I've taken a few wickets,” he said.

While rightly seen as somewhat of a bolter, Mennie was the Shield's leading wicket-taker in the 2015-16 season with 51 at 21 apiece for the Redbacks.

Bird, who has played five Tests and taken 21 wickets at a healthy average of 25.28, had done his chances no harm by claiming figures of 3-75 and 3-59 in Tasmania's Shield match against Victoria at the MCG.

But the Australian selectors felt it was time for Mennie to be given a chance as a "just reward for effort”, chairman Rod Marsh explained.

"He's a deadset professional length bowler, that's what I love about him,” Marsh said. "No one (batting) likes bowlers who bowl a good length.”

There was no surprises in the batting line-up with Shaun Marsh retaining his spot at the top of the order with David Warner, and Usman Khawaja back in at No.3 ahead of Steve Smith, Voges and Mitchell Marsh.

Joe Burns could not have done any more to put his name back before selectors with a century for Queensland, but Shaun Marsh made a last-start 130 when replacing him in the third Test in Sri Lanka, before continuing on his rich vein of form at first-class level for the Warriors.

He also proved he was over his hamstring worries - for now at least.

"He got 73 and 110 (in the Shield game against South Australia) and he was running twos and threes,” Rod Marsh said. "He's fit as a fiddle.”

Australian squad: Shaun Marsh, David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith, Adam Voges, Mitchell Marsh, Peter Nevill, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Peter Siddle, Nathan Lyon, Joe Mennie