Selectors back MacGill, cut Hogg
Stuart MacGill has been given a clear run into the first-Test team after Brad Hogg was trimmed from Australia's 13-man squad in Brisbane. Andrew Hilditch, the chairman of selectors, watched Hogg bowl in the nets before making the decision, which was helped by the cloudy and damp conditions.
MacGill, who made light of his "bowl-off" with Hogg after training on Monday, is now in the prime position to play against Sri Lanka at the Gabba on Thursday and resume his Test career after an 18-month break. He needs only two wickets to reach 200 and should line up alongside Brett Lee, Stuart Clark and Mitchell Johnson, who is eyeing a debut on his home ground.
The Australians held on to Ben Hilfenhaus, the Tasmania fast bowler drafted into the squad at the weekend, but picking four fast bowlers is unlikely despite the swing-friendly conditions. Hogg was due to return to Perth to prepare for Western Australia's Pura Cup match against Queensland on Friday.
Sri Lanka's choices are more difficult as they have four quality options to shoehorn into a probable three-man attack. Trevor Bayliss, the coach, will consider a pace quartet but the hamstring injury to Kumar Sangakkara, which has ruled him out, means the safer option is to pick another batsman and let the wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene slot in at No. 7.
If that happens Farveez Maharoof appears to be the unlucky bowler despite his strong performances in the tour game against Queensland. "Dilhara Fernando will be the first quick picked," Bayliss said. "He's been the leader of the attack for the last few months. We gave him a rest in the last match because we thought he'd be the first pick.
"Depending on whether we go into the match with four quicks or three, there might be one guy who is desperately unlucky." Chaminda Vaas and Lasith Malinga add necessary variety to the unit and the forecast of more rain in Brisbane over the next couple of days increases the chances of the visitors preferring their experienced bowlers.
Sangakkara is hoping to play in Hobart and his place at No. 3 will be taken by Michael Vandort, leaving Sanath Jayasuriya and Marvan Atapattu in strong positions to return as openers. Both Jayasuriya, who started the tour with a century followed by two failures at Allan Border Field, and Atapattu have been out of the side for long periods, but they have been used at the top of the order in both tour matches.
"Marvan looked good in both games," Bayliss said. "In the game against Queensland he got almost 50 on a difficult wicket and looked very at ease, hopefully he brings that into the Test and we get a good start."
Peter English is the Australasian editor of Cricinfo