With the 3rd test fast approaching, Ricky Ponting and the Australian management must decide whether or not they are going to make any changes to the team which lost at Lord’s. If the choice was hard enough at the end of the Northants game, it can’t have got much easier since with reports of how the Edgbaston pitch is likely to play further muddying the waters.
In both the opening batting and bowling disciplines they have misfiring performers who can’t afford a repeat of their Lord’s performances. In Phil Hughes they have a batsman who England look to have got on top off, with no top order batting cover in the squad it looks like he will get at least one more chance.
The Australian selectors claimed at the start of the series that Shane Watson would act as batting cover for any of the top 6. If they are to drop Hughes it would be interesting to see if they would be brave enough to back their statements up and use Watson to open the batting.
Lets be honest about it, Watson is fine opening in any form of one day cricket, but a test opener, I think not! Look at his innings in the recent tour match at Northampton, in the 1st innings he scored 84 off 96 balls and in the 2nd, 50 off just 35 balls, more the scoring rate of a big hitting middle order batsman – exactly what he is at test level.
I’m not suggesting for a minute he would necessarily play like that at Edgbaston should he get the nod to open, but the fact remains that this is the way he feels comfortable playing. If it is to happen it could only be a short term solution which would give England a boost as it could be seen as an act of desperation.
It is doubtful that he would get into the side as a bowler alone – he took 3 wickets from 15 overs in the tour match – meaning the only other option would be for him to take the No.6 slot from Marcus North, this would be a harsh call on North who scored an unbeaten century in Cardiff and although only new to test cricket already has 2 centuries and averages over 48.
Then you come to Mitchell Johnson, no matter how bad he has been so far it would be a big call for Australia to leave out the man who only recently put South Africa to the sword with his bowling. He has been all over the place so far and at Northampton he looked very short on confidence.
It would appear that the bowling line up could do with freshening up a bit. Stuart Clark did himself no harm in the tour match and with Brett Lee still out injured he would have to be the next in line to play. The problem for Australia is that the management appear to think he has lost a yard of pace – which asks the question, why did they bring him?
As well as that they also have a lot of faith in Peter Siddle who I believe we are yet to see the best of on this tour, with Hilfenhaus performing well in English conditions that leaves Hauritz as the man most likely to make way if they do decide to bring in Clark.
With Australia looking in disarray at the moment and with all these selection headaches they will very likely go and win the test match to level the series, when England think things are going well for them they seem to be well able to manage to bring themselves back down to earth with a rather large bump.