Johnson, Hastings and Hazlewood called up
Mitchell Johnson has returned to Australia's Test squad for the first time in a year and has been joined by the uncapped Josh Hazlewood and John Hastings as Australia consider their bowling options for the third Test in Perth. Mitchell Starc is also part of a 14-man group that does not feature the injured James Pattinson, nor the batsman Rob Quiney, who has been dropped after scoring a pair in Adelaide.
Shane Watson is expected to play in what should be a direct swap for Quiney, but the major questions for the selectors will surround the make-up of the attack. Four fast men could be an option at the WACA and the heavy workload experienced by Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus in the draw at Adelaide Oval, combined with the absence of Pattinson, might lead to multiple changes.
"He's no doubt fatigued, he's bowled his heart out that's for sure, but he's got three days to recover and get himself right, give himself every opportunity to get out on the park in Perth," the captain Michael Clarke said of Siddle. "He was outstanding today, but no doubt he's fatigued, he's bowled his heart out.
"I think [the large squad is] for options, as you've just seen Hilfy and Sidds have had a really heavy workload, bowled a hell of a lot in the last couple of weeks and Test matches, I think we need options for Perth to see how the boys follow-up. We've got to fly and a couple days of training. As a selection panel we're giving ourselves every option to work out what the best attack is for those conditions once we see them up in Perth."
Johnson, who has not played a Test for Australia since the Johannesburg victory last November, will be a serious contender given his record at the WACA. He took 11 wickets against South Africa in Perth four years ago and nine in the 2010-11 Ashes Test there, and Clarke said he was impressed by Johnson's Sheffield Shield form.
"He's been bowling really well in Shield cricket, he's bowling fast and he's swinging the ball as well which is nice to see," Clarke said. "In conditions he loves in Perth and has had a lot of success, he'll be doing everything in his power to try to get an opportunity. If you look at Starc, Hazlewood, Hastings, Johnson, they're a very handy four fast bowlers to be taking to Perth with Siddle and Hilfenhaus. We're very lucky in Australia to have some good quicks performing well, yes they're talented, but they've been performing as well."
The selectors can also pencil in the vice-captain Watson, who missed the first two matches due to a calf injury. The national selector John Inverarity said Watson was expected to return to the side when the third Test starts on Friday, and Clarke said he could see no reason Watson would be hampered in either batting or bowling.
"Shane Watson is in our squad of 14," Clarke said, "and with our not taking Rob to Perth I'm really confident Watto will be fine to take full part with both bat and ball in the Test match."
Inverarity said the uncapped bowlers, Hastings and Hazlewood, deserved their opportunities through strong domestic displays.
"John Hastings, who has played 11 ODIs and three T20s in Australian colours, deserves his inclusion in the squad following his excellent recent form," Inverarity said. "In Sheffield Shield cricket he has taken 22 wickets at 18.3 and consistently scored valuable lower order runs.
"Josh Hazlewood is a very exciting 21 year old pace bowler. He debuted for New South Wales when he was 17 and played an ODI game for Australia at 19. He has been improving steadily this season after an injury interrupted 2011-12 season.
"There is a possibility that the final XI could include four pace bowlers. The extra bowlers have been included as back-up and in recognition of the demanding workloads shouldered by Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus in the first two Vodafone Tests against South Africa."
Squad David Warner, Ed Cowan, Shane Watson, Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke (capt), Michael Hussey, Matthew Wade, Mitchell Johnson, John Hastings, Peter Siddle, Ben Hilfenhaus, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood.
Daniel Brettig and Brydon Coverdale are assistant editors at ESPNcricinfo.