Batsman Alex Doolan happy to play where he's put for debut

Prospective Test debutant Alex Doolan has no interest in being shielded from South Africa's formidable pace attack, declaring he would prefer to bat at No.3 against the Proteas than at No.6.

The right-hander's prospects of selection for the opening Test at Centurion on February 12 increased after Shaun Marsh was withdrawn from the tour due to a calf strain.

Doolan, 28, agreed the absence of Marsh ''quite possibly'' increased the likelihood of his selection, but nevertheless insisted that was secondary to his disappointment that his recent Australia A teammate Marsh would not be part of the tour.

''Initially I was very disappointed for Shaun. He and I have been quite close over the past 12 months and played a little bit together and I was looking forward to having a tour with him again,'' the Tasmanian said on Sunday.

Australia needs to fill its No.6 berth after George Bailey was axed following the Ashes. Selectors could select Doolan or Marsh's replacement Phil Hughes in that position, or move the new batsman to three and shift incumbent first-drop batsman Shane Watson down to six to allow him to bowl more, especially late in the innings.

Doolan said he had yet to be given an indication of where he would be batting in this week's tour match against a South African Invitational XI, let alone the first Test, and did not expect to be told until coach Darren Lehmann arrived, following his duties in Sunday's series-ending Twenty20 international against England at the SCG.

While Doolan was adamant he would be delighted to bat anywhere in Australia's line-up he disputed that the best position to ease him into Tests would be at No.6, given all but two of his 81 Sheffield Shield innings have been in the top four.

''When you say it's easier to slot in further down I don't think that's the case for me given my background … playing at six would be a fair bit more foreign to me,'' he said.

''I'd probably be more comfortable up the order, simply because that's where I've batted for the majority of my career.

''In saying that, if I'm asked to bat at six I'd of course have no problem with that.''

Doolan said he was not daunted that only 18 Australian batsmen had debuted at No.3, and of them the longest unbroken stint at that position was Tom Moody almost 25 years ago.

''I wasn't aware of those stats, but the mark of an international player is if you're making runs you're going to stay in the team, and I think that's the way it should be. It's the job of whoever fills that spot to make runs and make it their own,'' he said.

Doolan similarly backed his ability to prosper if called on early against the might of Steyn, Philander and Morkel, should he be chosen at three with Watson shifted down.

''I'm not fazed by it. But it'd be an interesting, really good challenge if it happens,'' he said. ''I think I've played enough now to have been through most of the emotions of cricket, so if it happens hopefully I'll be able to hold my nerve OK.''

The Australians have encountered a lot of rain since they arrived in Potchefstroom late last week, which Doolan reckoned would give bowlers an early advantage in the four-day tour match starting on Wednesday.

''We'd expect it to probably be a little bit juicy on days one and two, but that's no different to first-class cricket back home,'' he said.

This story Batsman Alex Doolan happy to play where he's put for debut first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.