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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Graham on December 13, 2013, 3:32 GMT

    Henrik Lovein; I would say bring it on, you can only have two behind square. Your bowlers arent that quick, were good at the short ball and struggle more with the 4th stum line then a bumper barrage. If you read all of Mcdermotts comments he is talking about bowling fuller at Perth but dont be afraid to bowl the odd bouncer. I have seen a lot of wickets from full balls and not every ball is a bouncer. But hey if England want to fall in to the trap of bowling non-stop bouncers we will take the 500 runs in a day on offer. England and Australia both no the rules and if it was a sound tactic you would have thought England would be doing it. There has been nothing unsporting with any of Australias bowling we are playing for our country not some Under 9 team and it should be as competetive as possible, within the rules outlined by the game.

  • Dummy4 on December 13, 2013, 1:47 GMT

    Henrik Mc'Loven - Are you suggesting that Anderson, Broad, Finn, Tremlett and Rankin are fast bowlers? They are fast medium bud, apart from Tremlett who is medium fast. Monty is by far your best bowler and should play ahead of Swann.

  • M on December 13, 2013, 1:34 GMT

    @Bonehead_maz; Doug is bowling well at the moment... I was never convinced with him, I think in this modern age he lacks general fitness and especially at the WACA that is a pre-requisite.

    Nathan Coulter-Nile from what I understand is far from having a stand-out year and already this season he is being outbowled by Hogan both home and away (NCN 9wkts to Hogan 21wkts)... It seemed an odd decision to select those two as replacements... although on his only home appearance Coulter-Nile did get 4 in each innnings... He's 26, hits the pitch hard but not convinced he is at the next step yet...

    So, question is, here and now who is next? Cutting is a possibility - Aus need one of Starc, Cummins, Pattinson or Bird to recover sooner rather than later... we talk about having good stocks, but we are running out of 'fit' good stock.

  • M on December 13, 2013, 1:20 GMT

    @Harmske; AussiePhoenix beat me to it... comparing Shaun Tait and Mitchell Johnson is like comparing a ballerina to a bull... Tait got all his pace from a fast lithe whippy action that put that much stress on his body he could only bowl about a dozen decent balls then needed to rest for the day... Mitchell Johnson is an athlete in every sense of the word and strong as an ox... his run up is smooth and unhurried, his action (although not quite perpendicular) is constant (now) and repeatable and is not causing the stress it had over his middle career... in short, he could be bowling this way for at least another 4 years... and then he may slow down... And when Aus played Tait at the WACA, the only reason people cared was to see him bowl fast as we all knew it would likely be his only appearance...

  • Dummy4 on December 13, 2013, 0:14 GMT

    this test will be closer than last 2 tests. England batting showed better application and matt prior has now returned to form. Joe Root showed courage so stick with him at no 3. The problem is the no 6 position. Ben stokes looks promising as a bowler and i think will do well in perth provided he pitches ball up - he does hit the deck hard. I reckon stick with this team as England hasn't really got a good 3rd seamer.Perhaps try rankin and drop monty. For Australia, I believe it will be ryan harris as their key wicket taker in this test.

  • Dummy on December 12, 2013, 16:34 GMT

    Johnson will trouble England especially if he gets that devastating late swing going; I fancy Ryan Harris ( if he's fully fit) to do damage also

  • Richard on December 12, 2013, 13:10 GMT

    @Henrik Loven:- England are free to pick whichever team and bowl whichever way they like. It's always been that way. Larwood, Voce, Tyson, Trueman, Snow, Willis, Harmison, Flintoff....just a selection of English bowlers that have come after us before. Sure Henrik, England have never bowled short and at the body before, and if our fields were illegal we'd be no balled for it. So what's the problem, if the Gentleman's code wasn't dead before Bodyline it certainly was was after. It's all covered specifically in the rules now, and we're not breaking them.

  • Trevor on December 12, 2013, 12:39 GMT

    I've seen so many sportsmen and teams over the years that go into big events as outright favourites and who, according to every man and his dog, is already lifting whatever trophy is on offer before the match has even started. This quite often fills said individual or team with bucketloads of self confidence and an attitude that they only have to show up to win. Meanwhile the other player/team gets fired up reading how they're about to be humiliated. Their desire to prove everybody wrong consumes them and invariably they play like they've never played before. Consequently it's the underdog that often comes out on top and everybody else is left dumbstruck. I have a feeling I might be witnessing another of these moments....

  • rob on December 12, 2013, 12:38 GMT

    @Henrik Lovén: It's a myth that any old fast bowler can simply rock up in Perth and blow teams away. Perth is also a tremendous place to get runs. It basically punishes mediocrity though. It doesn't matter how big, fast or angry a bowler is because unless he's highly skilled he'll get butchered in Perth. Same goes for batting.

    If MJ gets some wickets it won't be because he's bowling fast and short. He'll only get wickets if he pitches it up a bit and gives it a chance to swing, hit the stumps, trap his man LBW or draw a nick. .. the short ball will be used sparingly. You watch.

  • Dummy4 on December 12, 2013, 12:14 GMT

    Jonesy2, here's a happy thought for you ahead of the start - England play not only Anderson and Broad, but also Finn, Rankin and Tremlett, all bowling the McDermott way at the body with three close leg-side fielders. Hours and hours of this 6'5" to 6'7" barrage, wonder how the Aussies will hold up? And what WILL their fans such as yourself have to say about unsporting English tactics...

  • No featured comments at the moment.