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December 11, 2013
Nathan Lyon is expected to retain his place for the third Test at the WACA, with the coach Darren Lehmann reluctant to ask too much of his fast bowlers in the exceptionally hot weather expected in Perth over the next week. The forecast for the first three days is for top temperatures of 38C, before 39C on day four and 37C on the final day, and while the heat will bake the pitch and provide extra bounce and carry, it also has the potential to cook the fast bowlers.
Australia have played an all-pace attack in two of the past three Perth Tests and succeeded on both occasions, against India in 2011-12 and in the most recent Ashes Test at the WACA in 2010-11. Last summer, Australia's fast men took 16 wickets against South Africa and Lyon collected three in a heavy loss, but Lehmann said while consideration would be given to including James Faulkner, the more likely scenario was that Lyon would hold his place.
"We'll have to look at the wicket first and foremost, see what it's like. If we think it warrants him [Faulkner] playing and the four quicks so be it," Lehmann said. "But, look, it's going to be hot weather here - it's 35 and getting up to 40 on Monday - so we'll probably ... I think we'll play the spinner. Again, we've got to work out who has pulled up fit from the last Test match, so good question. We'll see what happens."
In addition to Faulkner, Australia also have Doug Bollinger and Nathan Coulter-Nile on hand as back-up pacemen. There was plenty of grass on the WACA wicket on Wednesday, two days out from the Test, but that was expected to be cut back before the match.
The curator Matt Page, in charge of his first Test after the departure of his predecessor Cam Sutherland, said he expected the pitch to look whiter by the start of the match and he said it would be quicker than the early-season Sheffield Shield matches, and the surface on which England played their opening tour game of the trip.
"With the weather we're going to get - 37, 38 - it's pretty conducive and will bake the surface and definitely help it go through better," Page said. "I'm pretty confident there'll be some pace and bounce. The last Shield games here have been quite good. I'm confident it will be exactly the same."
Mitchell Johnson claimed five wickets in a Shield match against South Australia at the WACA in early November and bowled with impressive intensity, in a foreshadowing of his Ashes performances over the first two Tests. But Page said Johnson could expect even more assistance from the surface for the Test than he did in that Shield game.
"He only played one Shield game here - first game of the season - and he was pretty happy with it," Page said. "I think this one will be quicker than that one was.
"Spinning-wise you'll get the footmarks day four, day five. You'll get a bit of turn out of there. Spinners here normally get the bounce more than anything."
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Brydon Coverdale
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