Australia Likely 4th Test Lineup

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screenhunter_03-aug-07-0530The fourth test just feels so important to this series. If the Poms win it, they are home, if the Aussies win it, you feel that they will retain the Ashes, if it’s a draw, well it will be ON for the final test at the Oval.

So, how is the Aussie team shaping up for this most crucial of encounters?

Unlike the English team, which is rife with injury, the problem for the Baggy Green’s is that they have too many players to choose from! Brett Lee has announced that he is fit to play, Stuart Clark seems like a sure thing, and the reports about a stomach strain to Michael Clarke seem to be incorrect. So, with so much on the line, what line-up will the Aussies choose? If we are to believe reports today, such as this one from The Age newspaper in Melbourne, it looks like they might do something radical.

I guess the reality is that Australia absolutely needs to take 20 wickets in one of the two remaining games, and unfortunately for them, they haven’t been able to do that yet. So, perhaps an extra bowler is a smart move. Before the last test I called for Australia to play an extra bowler, and push Brad Haddin up to six. My argument was that Mitch Johnson was clearly good enough to bat at seven, and the inclusion of Stuart Clark was a real plus.

Instead of this, the selectors dropped young gun Phil Hughes, and replaced him with Shane ‘My Body’s About to Break Down’ Watson. Watson made some runs, but in reality this was just a ludicrous decision. Watson is clearly not going to be a long-term prospect at the top of the order, and he is also clearly not good enough to be considered a legitimate 5th bowling option for Ponting (he was bowled a total of 3 overs in the last test). There is no way that the selectors will go back on their change, and reinstate Hughes in this series, but giving him the boot so early in his career, and with him still sporting an average of over 50 is just bizarre.

So, in my opinion, the best plan for Australia is to indeed go for an extra bowling option. Flintoff looks unlikely to play, and the English selectors seem to consider Steve Harmison as a threat to national security, therefore if the ball doesn’t swing, the Poms just won’t worry the Australian batsmen. Now, if Haddin plays, then they can easily play him at six, and include Clark or Lee. But if he doesn’t get up for the game, they will have to rethink. I don’t think Manou is really an option at six, so therefore Andrew McDonald will come into the equation.

McDonald has proved that although he may not be a match winner, he can certainly be considered a handy batsman, and a very effective 5th bowling option for Ricky Ponting. The one key aspect of his bowling is his ability to stem the flow of runs, something that none of the bowlers have been able to achieve so far. Then you can replace Pete Siddle with Lee or Clark, who will be a more attacking option. I think Watson would probably the best to make way for McDonald.

So, if Haddin isn’t fit, I would suggest a team such as this:

1.    M. North
2.    S. Katich
3.    R. Ponting
4.    M. Hussey
5.    M. Clarke
6.    A. McDonald
7.    G. Manou
8.    M. Johnson
9.    N. Hauritz
10.    B. Lee/S. Clark
11.    B. Hilfenhaus

If Haddin is fit, then:

1.    S. Watson
2.    S. Katich
3.    R. Ponting
4.    M. Hussey
5.    M. Clarke
6.    B. Haddin
7.    M. Johnson
8.    N. Hauritz
9.    B. Lee
10.    S. Clark
11.    B. Hilfenhaus

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