Bollinger and Harris added to Test squad
Ricky Ponting has told Australia's first-Test bowlers that none of them are safe for Adelaide, but Mitchell Johnson and Ben Hilfenhaus have the most to fear after Doug Bollinger and Ryan Harris were added to the 13-man squad. The home attack managed only one wicket in the second innings at the Gabba as England pummelled 517, with Johnson, Hilfenhaus and Xavier Doherty struggling for impact.
Johnson was the most disappointing as he went wicket-less for the first time in his Test career, while Hilfenhaus peaked with his breakthrough from the third ball of the opening morning. Bollinger is a left-arm fast man who was Australia's best bowler of the past year and Harris is an expert at gaining conventional and reverse swing, which could be a huge asset in Adelaide from Friday.
Johnson has never been dropped from the Test team but is the most vulnerable man as the teams fly south-west on Tuesday. Ponting said the bowler remained in a "reasonably positive" state of mind but "was not at his best". "I don't think anyone is certain yet," Ponting said. "The fact we have brought two fast bowlers in, I'm not sure if anyone is certain."
Johnson's bowling has been faltering for most of the winter and he was one of the players who was put on notice when the original 17-man squad was named for Brisbane. After responding with five wickets and a century for Western Australia, he suffered a quick relapse at the Gabba.
He delivered 42 overs for 170 runs during the match and struggled with his speed and accuracy. While he is a player who gets better with more work, there were few promising signs.
"I'm not singling one person out, because I don't think any of our bowlers were at their absolute best," Ponting said. "It's all about working in a group and working in partnerships, and I don't think we did that enough. We've got a lot of work to do as a group."
Peter Siddle was the most successful Australian bowler but even he failed to follow up his six-wicket opening on Thursday with a second-innings wicket. The pitch flattened out and England dominated, leaving Andrew Strauss's stumping off Marcus North as the only success of a demoralising second innings for the hosts. Still, the draw did end a three-match losing streak, which was their worst sequence since 1988.
Australia now have three days to finalise a Plan B as they prepare to face a pitch in Adelaide that is traditionally made for batsmen. Playing back-to-back Tests is a concern for both teams, although England gained extra recovery time by having their tough bowling days on Friday and Saturday. "If we get a flat wicket in Adelaide again," Ponting said, "we have to make sure we are a whole lot better than we were in this game."
Harris and Bollinger were both picked in the inflated first-Test squad before being released due to fitness doubts. Harris, who moved from South Australia three seasons ago, was cut because he had only just returned from a chronic knee injury, which had sent him home from England before the Pakistan series in July.
He convinced the selectors of his durability with four wickets in a one-day game for Queensland and six more in the Sheffield Shield fixture against Victoria that ended today. Ponting is a huge supporter, having seen Harris' tireless work during his first two Tests against New Zealand in March.
"There's a lot to like about Ryan," Ponting said. "The fact he's had great success at international cricket, he's one of the guys just meant to be playing."
Bollinger's lack of bowling since picking up a stomach strain in India led the selectors to settle on Siddle for the first Test. It was a controversial decision until Siddle stormed to six wickets on the opening day, including a hat-trick. Bollinger will be released a day early from New South Wales' Shield fixture against Western Australia in Perth.
Australia squad Shane Watson, Simon Katich, Ricky Ponting (capt), Michael Clarke, Michael Hussey, Marcus North, Brad Haddin, Mitchell Johnson, Xavier Doherty, Peter Siddle, Ben Hilfenhaus, Ryan Harris, Doug Bollinger.
Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo