South Africa v Australia, 2nd Test, Johannesburg November 16, 2011

Australia wait on 'stiff' Harris

Australia's attack for the second Test might not be decided until the morning of the match as they wait to see how Ryan Harris pulls up from Wednesday's training session. If Harris, who the captain Michael Clarke said was "stiff and sore" after the defeat in Cape Town, does not play, it will almost certainly mean a debut for the 18-year-old Pat Cummins.

Harris bowled only 24.3 overs in the three-day Test at Newlands and has had five days to recover but the Australians wanted to see how he felt on Thursday morning before confirming his place in the side. Harris, 32, has had a range of injury problems in recent years and is often seen walking laps of the ground to warm up while the rest of his team-mates engage in more vigorous activities.

"He's a bit stiff and sore from the last game no doubt," Clarke said. "He's an example of someone who needs to train today. We need to wait and see how he goes in the nets and then how he pulls up in the morning.

"As is the case a lot in any form of the game, we generally have an optional session before the game which allows the players who don't think they need to train or want to train to take that option. Generally, there's a couple of guys who need to train to see if they will be fit for the game."

If Australia were to lose Harris it would be a significant blow. Although he has played only eight Tests he is the most consistent performer in Australia's pace attack and in Cape Town last week his Test average dropped below 20 for a period. But Harris, who missed the final Test against Sri Lanka recently due to a minor hamstring strain, is unlikely to be the kind of bowler who can play every Test for Australia due to his brittle body.

Even if Harris does play, the make-up of Australia's bowling group was far from clear. Cummins still has a strong chance of becoming Australia's second-youngest Test debutant, with Peter Siddle the man most likely to miss out if Harris makes the starting line-up.

"I don't want to give too much away right now but there's certainly a chance that he could be playing tomorrow," Clarke said of Cummins.

The pitch is expected to be hard and Clarke said Australia would almost certainly play a spinner. He is also likely to back the left-armer Mitchell Johnson, who bowled superbly in the tour match in Potchefstroom but had a poor Test in Cape Town.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo