Australians face tough choices after victory

Australia 340 for 9 dec (Watson 95, Hussey 65) beat England Lions 237 (Dalrymple 58, Lee 3-37) by 103 runs

And, now, the selection headache. Australia turned in a clinical and collaborative bowling performance against the England Lions on Sunday, but with no individual radically advancing his cause, the make-up of the tourists' line-up for the fifth Test will remain a mystery for several days yet.

Brett Lee was statistically the best of the Australian bowlers in Canterbury, removing both openers and skittling Liam Plunkett later in the day for figures of 3 for 37 from 16 overs. It seems highly unlikely, however, that his performance will be enough to convince selectors to part ways with one of the four incumbent fast bowlers who propelled Australia to victory inside three days at Headingley last week.

Lee, in his first competitive outing in six weeks, began inauspiciously on Saturday evening but increased in pace and intensity on the second morning. His endeavours were rewarded with the wickets of Joe Sayers and Stephen Moore before lunch - the latter to a brilliant, diving catch from Simon Katich at point - but Lee reserved his highlight-reel moment for Plunkett. Unleashing a fast, full delivery, Lee scythed through Plunkett's defences to splay the stumps, then watched on as one of the bails was pilfered by a souvenir-seeking seagull and flown to a nearby roof. "We were trying to see if he was going to eat it," Nathan Hauritz said. "I've never seen anything like it."

Australia's main selection battle ahead of the Oval Test - that which pitches Hauritz against Stuart Clark for the final bowling berth - remained unresolved on Sunday, with both proving more probing than prolific. Hauritz dismissed Andrew Gale and Steve Davies in consecutive deliveries after the lunch break, and Clark accounted for James Harris, Glamorgan's teenage allrounder, later in the day, but neither could manage a definitive knockout blow in their bid to impress Andrew Hilditch's panel.

Hilditch intimated last week the Australians would lean towards their preferred three-quicks-one-spinner formation for the Ashes decider, although the final decision will be largely influenced by conditions. Clark could feel justifiably aggrieved if overlooked for the fifth Test given his major contribution to Australia's innings-and-80-run victory at Headingley, and his solid outing in Canterbury. Steven Kirby incurred his wrath with three bouncers to the helmet, but Harris would be his only victim of the day, caught by Chris Hartley, Australia's replacement wicketkeeper, in the 76th over of the innings.

Potentially working in Clark's favour ahead of the fifth Test were the performances of the part-time spinners, Katich and Marcus North, both of whom claimed a wicket and reaffirmed themselves as legitimate bowling options. Hauritz, though, remains Australia's preferred choice, and did his selection chances no harm with 16 controlled overs.

"Selection will come down to how the wicket is and what they think the best mix is," Hauritz said. "It will just come down to how the conditions are. The wicket may still be dry and they might want to take four quicks. If picked, I know I'll do my role well. Every time I've had the opportunity I've done that.

"Every Test you play you learn more about yourself and what you can or can't do. Before I came out I was labelled a defensive bowler who didn't spin the ball. But I think I've shown on a spinning wicket what I can do. That defensive tag was weird but I can't change people's perception. I suppose that came about because I didn't spin it that much when I first started. It doesn't really faze me. I can also play a role even if it's not spinning. I think I've done okay."

Eng Lions 2nd innings Partnerships

1st24JJ SayersSC Moore
2nd13MA CarberrySC Moore
3rd10MA CarberryAW Gale
4th64JWM DalrympleAW Gale
5th0JWM DalrympleSM Davies
6th64JWM DalrympleCR Woakes
7th33LE PlunkettCR Woakes
8th11LE PlunkettJAR Harris
9th17SP KirbyLE Plunkett
10th1G KeedySP Kirby