England v Australia, 1st Test, Cardiff July 6, 2009

Leaping in after Lee

With Brett Lee ruled out of the first Ashes Test with a left side strain, Cricinfo takes a look at Australia's options for Cardiff

Stuart Clark

Who is he

Upset England with 26 wickets in 2006-07 and is coming back from elbow surgery. Yesterday was wondering if he could squeeze into a four-man pace attack, but is breathing much easier with Brett Lee out with a chest injury.

Why he should play

Made for the local conditions, can seam the ball and should be a handful on any pitch with a hint of green. Strong early in a spell and capable of surprising bounce, he is also a wise partner for the young pairing of Peter Siddle and Mitchell Johnson.

Why he shouldn't

Hasn't played a Test since facing New Zealand in December and wasn't convincing during the previous tour of India.

Chances of playing

Put your money on him whether they choose three fast men or four.

Nathan Hauritz

Who is he

Australia's only specialist spinner, Hauritz is an offie who has had less impact over the past two weeks than England's women in the singles at Wimbledon. More convincing in the one-day arena, he appeared in three Tests at home in 2008-09 but was not used in South Africa.

Why he should play

All tour the team management has been convinced that the pitch will take turn and after doing so much research they don't want to be caught short. England also carry a long line of left-handers, increasing the value of someone who can turn the ball away from them.

Why he shouldn't

Nobody is sure whether he can do any better than the part-timers Marcus North, Michael Clarke or Simon Katich, who are all playing anyway. In the two tour games he managed two wickets at 130 and will miss out if they go for four quicks or three and Andrew McDonald.

Chances of playing

Before Lee's injury he was an outsider, now it relies on the strength of Andrew Hilditch's gut.

Ben Hilfenhaus

Who is he

A bricklayer who grew into a muscular outswing bowler, he is an incumbent after appearing in all three Tests in South Africa. Takes important wickets and can deliver long spells, but will only be considered if the selectors go for all-out pace.

Why he should play

Can move the ball consistently at speeds above 140kph and is less chance of wearing out than a pair of RM Williams boots. Ignore his average of 52.28 in his opening Tests and focus instead on the fact all his breakthroughs have come from the top seven.

Why he shouldn't

Will do a similar role to Clark and add to the side's over-rate problems.

Chances of playing

Needs more rain, and heavy cloud cover before the toss on Wednesday, but will be seriously considered.

Andrew McDonald

Who is he

An allrounder who bowls medium pace, he has dropped down the order since starting at No. 6 in Sydney. Seen as a committed role player, nobody in the team will say a bad word about him despite a top score of 68 and nine wickets in four Tests. If picked, it will be for his dibbly-dobblers.

Why he should play

More likely to leak fewer than three runs an over than Hauritz and can build pressure on bored batsmen. Has done everything asked of him with the ball and his presence at eight or nine provides further batting security.

Why he shouldn't

Hasn't been called on tour and is not going to win a match on his own. Has probably bowled above himself in his opening four Tests and may not be able to sustain that level.

Chances of playing

Another option that will delay the final decision, but most likely to be running more drinks.

Shane Watson

Who is he

Don't laugh too much. He is a well-balanced allrounder and is part of the squad, predominantly as the spare batsman. However, a thigh injury is his latest issue in a long line of problems and picking him would be as risky as walking around Cardiff asking if Wales was a proper country.

Why he should play

When fit, he's a legitimate pace option.

Why he shouldn't

His longest bowl in Worcester was three balls to a corporate batsman on the outfield.

Chances of playing

More likely to go through a summer without a muscle strain.

Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo