Australia delay naming team

2010-12-15 12:38
Ricky Ponting (File)

Perth - Australia will delay a final decision on their team for the third Ashes Test against England, starting on Thursday at the WACA Ground, until the last moment.

Captain Ricky Ponting admitted on Wednesday he was unsure of his best line-up less than 24 hours before the match, in which an England win will mean the tourists retain the Ashes.

England arrived in Perth on Monday 1-0 up in the five-match series saying they knew their best XI, but Australia are wavering and are considering playing an all-pace bowling attack on what is tipped to be a lively pitch.

The last time Australia went into a Test without a specialist spinner was at the WACA in 2008, when they lost to India by 72 runs.

Little-known left-arm spinner Michael Beer was picked for the third Test squad and looked likely to make his debut, but Ponting seemed to be having doubts at his pre-match press conference.

"We haven't got a team yet, we've had a good look at the wicket this afternoon, it's changed a little bit since we've been here today so we want to just want to have a closer look at it again tomorrow before we finalise what our XI will be," Ponting said.

Ben Hilfenhaus and Ryan Harris had been expected to lead the Australian attack with either struggling Mitchell Johnson or first Test hat-trick hero Peter Siddle as third seamer and Beer lining up as specialist spinner.

But after talking to the WACA head groundsman, Ponting said he wanted to delay his final call.

"It's different grass than there's been on the wicket before, so we've got a lot of things that we've got to think about yet before we finalise it," he said.

"It's important to actually get a good feel of it tomorrow morning and just see how hard it is on the surface and if there's any moisture left in the surface before we make a decision."

Leg-spinning all-rounder Steve Smith will bat at six, Ponting said, and the home side also have all-rounder and opening batsman Shane Watson as a seam bowling option.

Despite the 2008 defeat, Ponting said his four seamers had something to offer at the WACA and an all-pace attack was a viable option.

"They're all vastly different... I think Hilfenhaus and Harris are lively swing bowlers, they both do a good job up into the breeze," he said.

"Siddle and Johnson would do a great job down breeze here, so you look at those things.

"With a bit of grass on the wicket there's every chance the ball is going to stay newer for longer than it probably does in most other places as well, so you'd think it's going to swing a bit more, and we've got the bases covered there with Harris and Hilfenhaus being good swing bowlers."

England go into the Test in buoyant mood, on the back of a crushing win at Adelaide, but Ponting questioned whether the visitors would be able to adapt to WACA conditions, though they won their opening tour match here last month within three days.

"The last couple of results haven't been brilliant for us here but I honestly feel the pitch conditions here are as foreign to English players as probably anywhere else in the world and hopefully we can exploit that this week," he said.

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