Australia v England, 3rd Test, Perth December 12, 2013

Faulkner fracture puts more focus on Harris

Australia will wait until Friday morning to make a call on the fitness of Ryan Harris for the third Test at the WACA, but the captain Michael Clarke said he was confident Harris would retain his place in the side.

Australia 's cover for Harris was reduced when allrounder James Faulkner was ruled out of the Test - and perhaps the series - after suffering a fractured thumb while batting in the nets on Thursday against a little-known English-born bowler.

Aaron Onyon, a 26-year-old seamer from Lincolnshire in England who moved to Perth three years ago, was the bowler who broke Faulkner's thumb having been recruited as a net bowler. Onyon, a fast bowler in the Jimmy Ormond mould, represented Nottinghamshire and Northants second XIs up until the end of 2010 but was unable to break into the first-class game.

Faulkner was unlikely to play in any case, but his injury means that should Harris struggle with his ongoing knee problem on Friday morning, Australia would need to look to the standby fast men Doug Bollinger and Nathan Coulter-Nile for a replacement. Harris bowled in the nets on Thursday morning, starting gingerly off a few steps as he tested the knee that has troubled him for several years, before working into a rhythm and coming off his long run.

Harris had David Warner hopping about and his pace looked good, but he appeared to be cautious in his follow-through. Clarke said the Australians would wait until the morning of the match to decide on their team for the WACA Test.

"I don't have a team at this stage," Clarke said after training on Thursday. "We're going to wait until the toss, see how everybody pulls up after training yesterday and today, and [it] gives us another opportunity to have a look at the wicket as well.

"I'm hopeful that everybody will come up. There's the obvious one in Rhino [Harris], he bowled today, so we're going to wait and see how he pulls up, but I'm confident he'll be fine. It gives the selectors another chance to see if the wicket changes at all come tomorrow morning. But it looks like a pretty good wicket to me."

Faulkner, 12th man for the first two Tests of the series, was struck on the right hand while batting against a net bowler and he immediately left the net for checking by team doctor Peter Brukner and physio Alex Kountouris. Faulkner appeared to be in considerable pain and was sent for scans, which confirmed a break.

"James was struck on the right thumb while batting in the nets and was subsequently taken for an x-ray which revealed a fracture of the thumb," Brukner said. "As a result he will not be available for the third Test. His progress will be monitored for a return to playing duty depending on how quickly the injury heals."

The coach Darren Lehmann said on Wednesday that Australia would almost certainly play the spinner Nathan Lyon despite expectations the WACA pitch would offer plenty of bounce and carry for the fast men. The forecast for the first four days of the Test is for temperatures in the high 30s, and a spinner would provide important down-time for the fast bowlers.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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