Tait recall gains pace for Perth
Shaun Tait is closing in on his third Test cap as the prospects of Australia choosing a four-man pace attack for Perth increase. Tait has been part of the squad for the opening two games, when Brad Hogg was preferred, but the expectations of a speedy pitch at the WACA mean Australia are likely to unleash Tait on an Indian batting order that is uncomfortable with bounce.
The selectors have announced an unchanged 12 for the match after the side retained the Border-Gavaskar Trophy with a 122-run win at the SCG on Sunday. Tim Nielsen, the Australia coach, said if the surface looked like it would suit pace then Tait, who played twice on the 2005 Ashes tour, would be a big chance of getting picked.
"We have said all the way through the summer that we will have a look at the conditions and play the team to suit the conditions," Nielsen said in the Courier-Mail. "That is why we have four quicks and a spinner in the squad."
After a couple of seasons of slow and low bounce, the pitch is "getting back towards what it used to be like", according to Dennis Lillee. "All I know is it should be fast and bouncy," Lillee said in the Age, "and certainly a whole lot better than what we have had for a long time there now."
India was the last side that Australia played without a specialist slow bowler, but that was in Perth in 1992, the match where Sachin Tendulkar made what many rate as his finest century. Cameron Sutherland, the WACA curator, said spinners had not been used much at the ground this season.
"They have only been bowling five to ten overs in the second innings of Pura Cup matches," Sutherland said. "The pace and bounce for the quicks is a real factor here at the moment. You would get more value out of playing an extra quick rather than playing a spinner."
Hogg not only has a code of conduct hearing to deal with before the match on his home ground, but he is also struggling with a finger injury. Hogg, who got six wickets in the first two Tests, has been charged with using offensive language at the SCG. However, even if he is free to play he might suffer the same fate as Harbhajan Singh and be squeezed out by the fast men.
Matthew Hayden picked up a hamstring injury in Sydney and is in a race to be fit for the match. Chris Rogers is a likely replacement if Hayden can't overcome the right thigh problem, although the selectors may consider David Hussey and Adam Voges.
Australia squad Matthew Hayden, Phil Jaques, Ricky Ponting (capt), Michael Hussey, Michael Clarke, Andrew Symonds, Adam Gilchrist (wk), Brad Hogg, Brett Lee, Mitchell Johnson, Stuart Clark, Shaun Tait.