England v Australia, 4th Investec Test, Chester-le-Street August 7, 2013

Bird in line if Harris not risked

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Jackson Bird could play his first Test of this Ashes tour after being named in Australia's 12 for the fourth Investec Test at Chester-le-Street, starting on Friday. Given the three-day turnaround between Tests, the main issue facing the selectors surrounds their management of the injury-prone fast bowler Ryan Harris, who was rested in the West Indies last year when the team faced a similar back-to-back Test scenario.

If he plays on Friday, it will be only the second time in his career that Harris has played three consecutive Tests and the first time he broke down in the third of those games, the Boxing Day Ashes Test of 2010-11. On that occasion Harris suffered a serious ankle injury but he has had a number of other problems during his short Test career, including shoulder surgery last year and a chronic knee injury.

Harris was left out in the Caribbean last year after he took five wickets in 37.4 overs and scored an important half-century in the Barbados Test. A three-day gap between matches, combined with his workload, general fatigue and the fact that he had battled a stomach bug in Barbados led the selectors to take a conservative approach and sit Harris out for the next Test in Trinidad, despite his strong form.

The circumstances on this occasion are strikingly similar. Again there is a three-day turnaround after the Old Trafford Test, where Harris bowled 38 overs and was off the field at times due to a stomach complaint. Harris appeared exhausted when leaving the field at the end of the third day in Manchester and although the rain on the final day gave him some extra recovery time, the Australians will want to see how Harris performs at training on Thursday before making a decision.

"In my mind I'm confident Ryano will be fine," captain Michael Clarke said on Wednesday. "Us not bowling on that last day because of the rain is definitely going to help our bowlers. It gives them another day to recover, and I don't think any of the quicks who bowled in the Test have been bowling many overs in the nets over the last couple of days. There will be plenty of treatment, recovery, rehab. I'm confident he will be fine."

After Australia's strong showing in Manchester, the selectors would be keen to choose the same side, all things being equal. Bird is the only inclusion in the 12 for Chester-le-Street from outside the 11 who played at Old Trafford, meaning there will be no recall for Ashton Agar, while other squad members including James Faulkner, Phillip Hughes, Ed Cowan and Matthew Wade have also missed out as expected. Clarke said Bird would offer plenty if selected.

"He was picked because he was one of out best bowlers no matter the conditions," Clarke said. "We know if there is a bit in the wicket he is a very good seam bowler and he has shown that in first-class cricket for Tassie. Have a look at his record and he has performed just as well away from home on flat wickets. He offers this squad a lot and if he is given an opportunity he will grab it with both hands."

Australia squad Michael Clarke (capt), Brad Haddin, Jackson Bird, Ryan Harris, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Chris Rogers, Peter Siddle, Steven Smith, Mitchell Starc, David Warner, Shane Watson.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • jlw74 on August 8, 2013, 13:57 GMT

    The XII for Durham is the same as Old Trafford which is fair enough given the situation the test ended in. Finally no chopping and changing even though we all seem to differ slightly on who makes up the best XI for Australia. It looks as if the Watson opener malarky may have come to an end and Warner will find himself back at the top and Watson at 6. As for Bird, I would have had him from the start over Starc but then I wanted Hughes to open or stay at 3 at the very least. Bird is a very very good seam bowler who has performed exceptionally for Australia in the tests he has been given. Agree that this is by no means a dead rubber as the series can still be levelled. Hoping that Rhino Harris comes up as he is a bloody good bowler and a positive for the side. Looking forward to what Durham as a test match brings to the table and what we find ourselves discussing over the next 5 days.

  • on August 7, 2013, 23:48 GMT

    Overseas, Australia is now struggling with the Fifth bowler. Back in the heyday of McGrath, Gillespie, Wane, Lee Kasperovich, Fleming, you hardly needed the fifth bowler. Watson is operating like the container. Bowling maiden after maiden. Australia needs a bowler who can somehow come up with that magic ball - at least a Jeremy Coney caliber bowler if not a Mudassar Nazar. With Starc being out of form, Lyon scarcely a factor, Pattinson out of action, Harris an injury risk, the only reliable warrior is Siddle. I [a neutral observer who only wants a good game] am very nervous for Australia in the next two tests. Tough days ahead.

  • anton1234 on August 7, 2013, 19:08 GMT

    Harris has it play. He is a good bowler to watch, and,more importantly, Australia's best. I would put him slightly ahead of Siddle. If the Aussies had won at OT then they would have played him. Therefore thy have up play him now. You pick our best side. I would possibly go with an all pace attack. Otherwise it's between Bird and Starc for the final slot. Starc adds useful runs at the tail end but Bird is the better bowler.

  • whoster on August 7, 2013, 18:26 GMT

    As long as Harris doesn't have any obvious complications after Old Trafford, he has to be picked. The most important thing for Australia is making every attempt to win at Durham by selecting their best side - which obviously includes Harris. Whether he plays or gets rested, every cricket fan should wish him an injury-free year. He deserves it more than anyone.

  • Mitty2 on August 9, 2013, 10:18 GMT

    @dustybin, the only obvious weak point is his wrist position, which can maye not be as good for swinging it a lot/bowling at a faster pace. His strengths: his height and bounce, durability, nagging accuracy and just pure ability to take wickets. Such strengths have given him a record that he averages under 20 in both FC and tests.

  • DustyBin on August 9, 2013, 8:53 GMT

    For Harris read Tremlett. Opponents hate facing them. Their figures look really good..except the numbers of tests they've each played since their debuts. Both big heavy blokes whose very size puts huge strain on their bodies. Lithe slender blokes like Walsh/Mcgrath are more durable. For those of us who've not seen him-what are Bird's good & bad points?

  • on August 9, 2013, 8:37 GMT

    I have been calling for Bird's inclusion as a line and length control merchant for the entire tour. He also has a gentle easy action which means he is capable of long spells. Besides all of this, his 107 FC wickets at 19 speak for themselves. He is a class act and I can't wait for him to be able to aspire to be the next Pigeon!!

  • on August 9, 2013, 8:32 GMT

    No need to play Lyon, in the 4 other test matches played Chester-le-Street spinners have only taken 14 wickets at 40 compared to pace bowlers who have taken 96 wickets at 27, so Smith, Clarke and Warner should take on spinning duties and try buy some wickets, having an extra quick will help keep Harris workload down

  • sidgregory on August 9, 2013, 7:23 GMT

    Play the four fast bowlers and use smith as the spinner. Young smith has certainly won me over as a player and harris,bird, siddle and starc looks strong.

  • funkybluesman on August 9, 2013, 4:16 GMT

    No need to rest Harris "just in case" unless he is actually struggling physically in some way. Clarke's point is well made, the last day at Old Trafford was almost completely washed out, so it's really more of a four day turnaround rather than three.

    Starc has to play too. You can't tell a fast bowler you want more consistency out of him when showing him none in return. Resting Starc with no physical issues from every second test is only going to hurt his progress, not help it. Especially if you play him on the slower, more spin-friendly pitches and rest him from the faster, more fast bowler friendly pitches.

    He had to toil away in tough conditions at Trent Bridge and Old Trafford, but was rested from the better pace conditions at Lords, and this test promises a better fast bowler pitch also.

    Great way to break a fast bowlers spirit, rest him from all the pitches that might help him and play him on all the ones that won't!

  • jlw74 on August 8, 2013, 13:57 GMT

    The XII for Durham is the same as Old Trafford which is fair enough given the situation the test ended in. Finally no chopping and changing even though we all seem to differ slightly on who makes up the best XI for Australia. It looks as if the Watson opener malarky may have come to an end and Warner will find himself back at the top and Watson at 6. As for Bird, I would have had him from the start over Starc but then I wanted Hughes to open or stay at 3 at the very least. Bird is a very very good seam bowler who has performed exceptionally for Australia in the tests he has been given. Agree that this is by no means a dead rubber as the series can still be levelled. Hoping that Rhino Harris comes up as he is a bloody good bowler and a positive for the side. Looking forward to what Durham as a test match brings to the table and what we find ourselves discussing over the next 5 days.

  • on August 7, 2013, 23:48 GMT

    Overseas, Australia is now struggling with the Fifth bowler. Back in the heyday of McGrath, Gillespie, Wane, Lee Kasperovich, Fleming, you hardly needed the fifth bowler. Watson is operating like the container. Bowling maiden after maiden. Australia needs a bowler who can somehow come up with that magic ball - at least a Jeremy Coney caliber bowler if not a Mudassar Nazar. With Starc being out of form, Lyon scarcely a factor, Pattinson out of action, Harris an injury risk, the only reliable warrior is Siddle. I [a neutral observer who only wants a good game] am very nervous for Australia in the next two tests. Tough days ahead.

  • anton1234 on August 7, 2013, 19:08 GMT

    Harris has it play. He is a good bowler to watch, and,more importantly, Australia's best. I would put him slightly ahead of Siddle. If the Aussies had won at OT then they would have played him. Therefore thy have up play him now. You pick our best side. I would possibly go with an all pace attack. Otherwise it's between Bird and Starc for the final slot. Starc adds useful runs at the tail end but Bird is the better bowler.

  • whoster on August 7, 2013, 18:26 GMT

    As long as Harris doesn't have any obvious complications after Old Trafford, he has to be picked. The most important thing for Australia is making every attempt to win at Durham by selecting their best side - which obviously includes Harris. Whether he plays or gets rested, every cricket fan should wish him an injury-free year. He deserves it more than anyone.

  • Mitty2 on August 9, 2013, 10:18 GMT

    @dustybin, the only obvious weak point is his wrist position, which can maye not be as good for swinging it a lot/bowling at a faster pace. His strengths: his height and bounce, durability, nagging accuracy and just pure ability to take wickets. Such strengths have given him a record that he averages under 20 in both FC and tests.

  • DustyBin on August 9, 2013, 8:53 GMT

    For Harris read Tremlett. Opponents hate facing them. Their figures look really good..except the numbers of tests they've each played since their debuts. Both big heavy blokes whose very size puts huge strain on their bodies. Lithe slender blokes like Walsh/Mcgrath are more durable. For those of us who've not seen him-what are Bird's good & bad points?

  • on August 9, 2013, 8:37 GMT

    I have been calling for Bird's inclusion as a line and length control merchant for the entire tour. He also has a gentle easy action which means he is capable of long spells. Besides all of this, his 107 FC wickets at 19 speak for themselves. He is a class act and I can't wait for him to be able to aspire to be the next Pigeon!!

  • on August 9, 2013, 8:32 GMT

    No need to play Lyon, in the 4 other test matches played Chester-le-Street spinners have only taken 14 wickets at 40 compared to pace bowlers who have taken 96 wickets at 27, so Smith, Clarke and Warner should take on spinning duties and try buy some wickets, having an extra quick will help keep Harris workload down

  • sidgregory on August 9, 2013, 7:23 GMT

    Play the four fast bowlers and use smith as the spinner. Young smith has certainly won me over as a player and harris,bird, siddle and starc looks strong.

  • funkybluesman on August 9, 2013, 4:16 GMT

    No need to rest Harris "just in case" unless he is actually struggling physically in some way. Clarke's point is well made, the last day at Old Trafford was almost completely washed out, so it's really more of a four day turnaround rather than three.

    Starc has to play too. You can't tell a fast bowler you want more consistency out of him when showing him none in return. Resting Starc with no physical issues from every second test is only going to hurt his progress, not help it. Especially if you play him on the slower, more spin-friendly pitches and rest him from the faster, more fast bowler friendly pitches.

    He had to toil away in tough conditions at Trent Bridge and Old Trafford, but was rested from the better pace conditions at Lords, and this test promises a better fast bowler pitch also.

    Great way to break a fast bowlers spirit, rest him from all the pitches that might help him and play him on all the ones that won't!

  • dunger.bob on August 9, 2013, 2:40 GMT

    @ TomPrice "Harris is quality but surely he'll be rested for a dead rubber". .. I wouldn't say this is a dead rubber at all. We are 2-0 down with 2 to play. The Ashes may be gone but the series isn't. It's possible that we could tie it up 2-2. .. OK, now that the laughter has died down let me explain. .. This is a 10 Test series in effect. We've played 3 so far so to give up with 7 left to play would be totally contrary to our general attitude towards sport. .. England fans may not be able to see my point, but believe me, I'm sure the Aussie players still feel as though there is plenty left to play for.

  • CapitalMarkets on August 8, 2013, 19:32 GMT

    The irony is that the Rhino is going to be even more effective in Australia than he is here but I'll eat my shoes if Harris makes it through all nine test matches, bearing in mind that the ground tends to be harder in Australia than it is here. Harris is a class act, but he's a big heavy guy who puts tremendous strain on his joints in his delivery stride. If I was an Australian selector, I'd be saving him for the home series, given that the ashes are staying in England for the next two matches (or five months if you prefer it put that way). Harris is taking his wickets at 18 a piece, better than McGrath and better than most of the great West Indian quicks like Marshall and Holding. Australia need him to win the ashes at home. They should remember that the man is on borrowed time and that it is several years since he even played through three matches on the spin. They also need to give Bird a chance to show what he can do in the next two matches. They might be pleasantly surprised.

  • on August 8, 2013, 15:24 GMT

    Why Aussie's still believe in the same batting line up? If they really want to win, they should do some urgent replacement in No.3 position. Both Usman Khawaja and Philip Hughes are really waste. They should give a chance to some responsible players like Adam Voges or George Bailey. They can't be stamped as limited over cricketers, players who can play basic cricket shots can perform in any format. I would like to see David Warner opens with Rogers. Warner won't suits any other place and they are having not much options in that position. Shane Watson can bat at No.6. The interesting thing is Aussie's really don't need any specialist spinners like Lyon or Agar. If they are willing to give a chance to some fast blowers, that can do some wonders. If Harris or Pattinson is not fit, then Faulkner, Johnson, Mckay..etc., a lot of options are there.

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on August 8, 2013, 14:39 GMT

    Michael Clarke says "I don't think anyone is here to 'give them a go'. That's not in any Test cricket and certainly not an Ashes series, especially the position we're sitting in now. It's about picking your best 11 players."

    But in reality over half the squad there are just passengers and this entire series has/will be just about giving people a go.

  • Big_Chikka on August 8, 2013, 14:14 GMT

    i'm not anyone's fan,...but.. i do respect the way harris goes about his business on the pitch, nuff respect.....

  • DylanBrah on August 8, 2013, 14:00 GMT

    Lyon is not part of our best XI. There is no point picking a spinner just for the sake of it, if he isn't good enough. Bird should play.

  • ReverseSweepIndia on August 8, 2013, 13:56 GMT

    why not drop both Watson the allrounder and Starc the bowler? Then you have 2 places. Play Bird the bowler in place of Starc the bowler and play Starc the allrounder in place of Watson. I know I could have said simply drop Watson and bring Bird, but that would not have made sense of what I had just tried to say.

  • on August 8, 2013, 13:16 GMT

    If the pitch looks anything like the practice pitch in which Alister Cook is receiving throw downs (home page photo) then it should be four fast bowlers including Bird.

  • TomPrice on August 8, 2013, 12:51 GMT

    Harris is quality but surely he'll be rested for a dead rubber. As an England fan I wouldn't mind seeing what Bird is made of. An all pace attack would be a mistake. England will certainly play a spinner. Monty got a five for at Chester Le Street against WI in 2007.

  • ADB1 on August 8, 2013, 12:16 GMT

    Here's hoping Harris can hold up. I'm an England supporter, but what a skilled, whole-hearted bowler Ryan Harris is. When he's not playing against England, I hope he gets a bag of wickets, every time. Such a shame his career has been blighted by injury. He's sort of the Aussie's Tremlett - you want to play him, but there's a risk he'll break down.

  • GloryDaysReturn on August 8, 2013, 11:54 GMT

    @Mitty2, you are the odd man out regarding Lyon. Bird should replace him. Having said that, they won't change the spinner now. They'll bring in Bird for Harris or not at all.

  • RandyOZ on August 8, 2013, 11:13 GMT

    You pick your best side, I thought we put the rotation policy to bed ages ago. I'd bring in Bird for Lyon.

  • RednWhiteArmy on August 8, 2013, 10:31 GMT

    I wonder if Watson is still scared of the Durham ghost? Remember him sleeping on brett lee's "floor" hahahaaaa

  • footy_99 on August 8, 2013, 10:12 GMT

    How Bird hasn't played yet is pretty amazing. Australia are clearly flushed for talent in the pace ranks and complete devoid of it in the spin department. Now they get a pitch which suits the quicks. There is only one sensible option for them and it is abundantly clear to all and sundry - they need to play 4 quicks. Bird in for Lyon is the only change necessary for game 4.

  • Mitty2 on August 8, 2013, 10:02 GMT

    Are people forgetting how well Lyon bowled on day 2? He was unlucky to not have had two wickets at the very least in just 10 overs. Are people forgetting his 9 wicket haul in the last India test? Are people forgetting what happened the last time we dropped a capable spinner in an Ashes series in England? Ridiculous.

    He has the revs, he has changed his run up so he bowls closer to the stumps to the right handers so he will be more of a threat (although I still think he bowls too wide of the crease) and his threat against left handers is undoubted. Cook was all at sea against him, and KP did the exact same as to what he would do to Swann.

    Look at every match report, and many of the comments at the time, every one said Lyon bowled far better than his figures suggested. Let's also not forget the practical stance - just imagine his confidence right now after being dropped unfairly yet again. Dropping Lyon makes about as much sense as putting Doherty and Maxwell in the same side.

  • Mitty2 on August 8, 2013, 9:48 GMT

    @milhouse, sarcasm - always been the highest form of wit, but then again with your previous comments what would I expect?

  • concerned_cricketer on August 8, 2013, 9:47 GMT

    Ryan Harris has to play. He was AUstralia's standout bowler. You don't necessarily need the bowlers who can produce that magic ball. It is great to watch and generally great for the game if we have a bowler like that but equally effective to have a bunch who can bowl to a plan and take wickets at regular intervals irrespective of what the pitch is like. That's what aussies have now. With Eng top-order being far from their best, the aussie bowlers only need to keep bowling to their plans and the wickets will happen even if there are no magicals spells.

  • whofriggincares on August 8, 2013, 9:04 GMT

    Why do people keep saying the series is dead? Yeah I know the Ashes have been retained but England will badly want to actually win the series not draw it. If (and it is a big if) Australia can win the final 2 tests it will be more than a moral victory it will be a huge confidence boost and potentially a significant mental edge heading into the Australian leg. We definitely had the upper hand in Manchester and if we could add at least 1 victory maybe 2 it would be a fairly good result after a poor first 2 tests. I hope they play Harris and Bird leaving Starc or Lyon to carry the drinks depending on the conditions.

  • Jaffa79 on August 8, 2013, 8:46 GMT

    Jonesy2! Good to see you back on these pages! You are been a little quiet this summer. @ Mitty2...so is it Starc or Bird for you mate? I am not sure which way you go on that shout. Also, Watson? In or out? Get off the fence please.

  • ozwriter on August 8, 2013, 8:35 GMT

    Blake, what pills are you on mate. khawaja is a specialist no3. wade is a wicketkeeper, should focus on that. hughes is awesome against rubbish attacks, and absolutely rubbish against good attacks. his list 3 test scores read 1, 1, 0. Average of 0.67 runs per innings. this after averaging less than 10 in india.

  • Thefakebook on August 8, 2013, 8:18 GMT

    Bird is the future,a true work horse who can bowl all day economically and get some cheap wickets. Ryan Harris deserves a rest he has done well in the two test,we don't want a 33 year old to get injured at this stage specially with the return leg in Australia so soon and ashes being not at stake.

  • jonesy2 on August 8, 2013, 8:05 GMT

    if bird plays he will be odds on to take 8-10 wickets for the match. i doubt england will pass 250 for the match if its seam-friendly.

  • on August 8, 2013, 7:57 GMT

    I think bird should play,if harris is fit than bird should play at the place of peter siddle and if harris isn't than at Harris's place and Faulkner should be given a chance too.

  • milepost on August 8, 2013, 6:57 GMT

    I like the suggestions of Bird in for Lyon. Harris must play if fit. Posters here suggesting the series is over are correct however, series are played a match at a time and Australia will be playing to win this next match. I would be surprised if there were a couple of changes to the England 11. Broad has been a little ineffective again (and bowled a lot at OT). Their batting is suspect but there's proven test match quality there so no panic, may be Bairstow might lucky to stay in. Bresnan might have a sit down two. Just speculation because I think Tremlett will play in Australia so may be get him in on a bowlers track? Hughes in for Watson isn't a bad suggestion by some of you too.

  • on August 8, 2013, 6:44 GMT

    Three days (plus a rain day) is far too small a rest period for someone with serious chronic injuries like Harris. Much as he has been a standout he needs to sit this one out in favour of Bird. This will also help Bird develop a bit for the return leg where he could very well prove to be a key player. Starc hasn't been bowling as badly as everyone thinks (8 wickets @ 27) and his spot is secure. One lesson that keeps getting ignored is to always bring along a spinner and Lyon has the lock on the spot here. There is no indication that Watson will be dropped, so the most likely bowling lineup will be Bird, Starc, Siddle and Lyon with Watson in a supporting role.

  • on August 8, 2013, 6:32 GMT

    why khawaja again??? hughes is better, so is Wade

  • GloryDaysReturn on August 8, 2013, 6:25 GMT

    While the first 3 tests gave the toss winner a clear advantage, this one might be a good one to lose. Both top orders look very vulnerable. For the English, Trott has lost it mentally, Cook has been found out (head falling over), Pietersen is suspect outside off stump early on and Bell looked tentative in that last innings at OT. Broad for England will be a real danger for this fixture. Expect him to cause major grief.

  • on August 8, 2013, 6:18 GMT

    If wicket, as some are suggesting, is very pace friendly, then Bird in for Lyon. Sounds like ideal lineup, then. Only, I'd swap Clarke up to 3, Warner to 4, smith 5 and Khawaja 6.

  • GloryDaysReturn on August 8, 2013, 5:40 GMT

    If Chester-le-Street is a pacemans wicket, Aust need to go in with Bird instead of Lyon. That way, there are 5 pace bowling options, despite the propensity for two of them to break down, with Warner and Clarke as viable spin options. Starc would add spine to the batting line up. Save Lyon for the last test.

  • Big_Maxy_Walker on August 8, 2013, 5:16 GMT

    they have to think about the return ashes series. Cant risk Harris being out long term and missing that series. This series is lost, Bird can come in and get some experience in the last two tests. Chances are he will be needed in the summer at home. Having four tests under his belt will give him some experience and confidence

  • on August 8, 2013, 5:06 GMT

    I would be keeping Starc in the team, definitely, he's making good progress, we need to keep giving him the exposure and experience, it will pay off big.

    I would be inclined to rest Harris and bring Bird in for Chester le Street. Then perhaps play Harris, Bird and Starc in the last test. For me now it is all about getting a team together and ready for the return series. We know Siddle and Harris are our two best bowlers, lets see what else we have in the tank. I would also be calling up Fawad for the last test, he may go for a few runs but I get the feeling he is a genuine wicket taker and will do well on Test match pitches back home in Aus. Lyon and Agar just don't have enough variation in their bowling, they both need to go back and work on that medium term. I think right now our most threatening attack would be Harris, Siddle, Starc and Fawad and I hope thats what we are going with at the Gabba.

  • on August 8, 2013, 5:00 GMT

    What a travesty. Watson gets another go. His last test 50 was in December last year and before that April 2012. He should not be considered for the fourth test, in fact he shouldn't have toured at all. Watson has been virtually a non batting batsman. Love to know what he has on the selectors, it must be good.

  • kramdrol on August 8, 2013, 4:24 GMT

    Bird should replace Lyon. Lyon looks like a club cricketer when he bowls to right handers. No guile, no tricks, too short, too full. Occaisional good ball to lefties. Mostly un-threatning though. Send him back to club cricket where he should have been all this time. 4 good quicks plus part-time spinners should win us a few games. And Bird could easily get 5 or more wickets. Should have been picked already.

  • dunger.bob on August 8, 2013, 4:06 GMT

    I think Bird deserves a chance regardless of whether Harris is fit or not. .. If Harris plays, bring him in for Starc. If Harris doesn't play, he's in anyway.

    I'm looking forward to watching Bird bowl. I haven't seen that much of him, but every time I have he looks really good. .. he's got a touch more pace than most people think as well.

    If only Finch hadn't crashed and burned. It's not everyday you see a scorecard that reads "Swann, Ct Finch, bowled Bird."

  • on August 8, 2013, 4:04 GMT

    Hughes should sue. Very hard to get dropped in an England series - Walters 72 was an earthquake; nobody went out in 89, 93 or 97, Slater copped it 01, but we wouldn't drop Martyn or Hayden in 05 nor Hussey in 09. Yet Hughes has been dropped twice, in two tours. Very, very poor.

  • cricket_ahan on August 8, 2013, 3:55 GMT

    @Edwards_Anderson- disagree. Watson should move down the order - not only is he out of form, but his batting style (hard hands, heavy at the crease and slow between the wickets) is not conducive to being a decent opener. Warner is a much better choice up the order, and is a good attacking complement to the calmer, more subtle Rogers. Khawaja 3, Clarke 4, Smith 5 and Watson 6. This will also ease some pressure from Watson's shoulders as he will not be facing fresh bowlers.

  • ammiel on August 8, 2013, 3:36 GMT

    I think if harris is fit and playing Australia is favorite! he is the key to our bowling, the best we have got, without him its touch and go, altho i would consider bird ahead of starc who looks out of sorts! however unlikely it is i think the best top order lineup is watson,warner,rogers...just a thought, im sure theyll all bat well regardless.

  • cccrider on August 8, 2013, 3:23 GMT

    Give Harris a rest. He's done beautifully. Starc is RUBBISH - all over the shop, leaking runs, relieving pressure. Bird for Harris. Faulkner for Starc.

  • jmcilhinney on August 8, 2013, 3:12 GMT

    If Australia had won game 3 then I would say that it was probably worth the risk to play Harris in game 4 but, as the Ashes can no longer be won, I would think it wise to rest him in favour of Bird. How tragic would it be for Australia if Harris played and suffered an injury that then kept him out of the return series? Obviously that can happen to any player at any time but the likelihood just seems that much greater for Harris.

  • orangtan on August 8, 2013, 3:10 GMT

    The English batters looked extremely vulnerable against pace especially on the rain-hit 5th day. I would go with an all-out pace attack of Harris,Starc,Siddle and Bird with Watson in a holding role and Smith and Clarke wheeling over a few overs of spin, maybe Warner too.

  • Someguy on August 8, 2013, 3:02 GMT

    The ashes are gone, no point risking him. They are only playing for pride now. Give Bird a run, I don't think he will let us down.

  • Redbackfan on August 8, 2013, 2:56 GMT

    What about Phil Hughes? I would pick Hughes ahead of Watson any day and he would get the nod over Khawaja, Warner and possibly Rogers. Just give the guy a proper go like Watson keeps getting and failing. Hopefully Bird does get an run Lyon gets to bowl a bit more like he should. Hats off to Haddin for a good game but I still think Hartley or Ludeman would be a better option anyways go Aussie

  • ToneMalone on August 8, 2013, 2:00 GMT

    Always keen to see Harris in the side but it seems injuries can put him out of action for months rather than weeks. I also think Bird has been unlucky to miss out so far, and is a great option. Go with Siddle, Bird and Starc for this Test, and maximise the chances of Harris playing in the return Ashes series this Australian summer.

  • ZuluFlow on August 8, 2013, 1:57 GMT

    Hughes - 24 yo 1500 runs at 32.6 - 3 hundreds in 49 innings Watson - 32 yo 2700 run at 34.5 - 2 hundreds in 81 innings

    Hughes needs to open the batting for Australia for a long period. Warner and Hughes is the closest thing Australia will find to Langer and Hayden - they need to play together for a year, irrespective of performance - and THEN if they continue to fail, go looking elsewhere. If you're going to build, build. And stop bringing 30+ year olds into the team or continuing to pick them on the basis of 'experience' - we can forgive those without experience for not performing, those with not so

  • wellrounded87 on August 8, 2013, 1:52 GMT

    Bird should replace Starc. Starcs batting is useful but his bowling is wayward and mostly unthreatening. He is not nearly consistent enough for test cricket and Lyon is no more threatening with the footmarks than he is without them so his whole left armer draw card is pretty useless and against england serves Swann a lot more than it does Lyon.

    If harris is rested/unfit bring in Cummins or Sayers. As for the batsmen Hughes should be in there probably at the expense of Watson. His 81* at Trent Bridge was probably the best knock behind Agar's 98 and Clarkes 187 by an Australian in this series. He showed incredible resilliance and fight. Which shows a marked improvement from his last stint in the test side

  • on August 8, 2013, 1:35 GMT

    Harris would be a big loss but I'm keen to see Bird out there. He is a real talent.

  • on August 8, 2013, 1:23 GMT

    Durham is not a spinners wicket so I would expect they would play all 5 seamers (inc Watson) with Smith, Warner and even Clarke sending down a few overs of spin if necessary. However, Warner and Rodgers should open and Watson in at 4 or 6.

  • Moppa on August 8, 2013, 1:08 GMT

    Agree with @SirViv that the selectors could be thinking about Starc's batting at the selection table, but I truly hope not. For me, Bird in for Starc, with Starc retaining his place only if Harris is rested. Can see arguments both ways re Harris. We need to win one of the two matches to gain confidence for return series, and Harris is critical to this. Also, the rain on day 5 at OT means that he hasn't done that much work. Conversely, we could save him for the Oval figuring that Starc, Bird and Siddle will still be a handful.

  • heathrf1974 on August 8, 2013, 1:03 GMT

    @Mitty I know what you are saying, but if Watson is out of the side we miss that vital fifth bowler option who can tie up one end and hopefully get some wickets as well. If he is not in the side the bowling performance of the team with be affected due to fatigue and an over reliance on Lyon and part-timers. I do agree with Hughes though. Players for the future batting line-up include Warner, Hughes and Smith. I like how Steve Smith is focusing more on his batting. He could end up being a lesser version of Steve Waugh who also began as an all-rounder and then became a great batsman.

  • Rowayton on August 8, 2013, 0:52 GMT

    Actually, I'd play Harris in this game and then rest him. No point in him playing the 5th Test, I would have thought. Durham is more likely to be a seamer's wicket than the Oval, and I reckon Harris has deserved a go on a (possibly) helpful surface. Don't think you can read too much into Starc's batting - he's good enough to get lots of runs on second day wickets and he's one of the cleanest hitters I've ever seen, but when the ball's doing a bit - see Trent Bridge - he's just another tailender. I'd go same side this game, Bird and Faulkner for Harris and Siddle at the Oval - by that stage, I'd be saving them for the return series. Mind you, with an attack of Bird, Starc, Faulkner and Lyon, England will probably score about 900.

  • JamesBlond on August 8, 2013, 0:48 GMT

    Resting Harris is a monumentally crazy idea. What ever happened to picking your best 4 bowlers for every match? If he is the best bowler and he is fit, he must play. Any attempt to over-manage his workload (when he hasn't played in the tour matches) is grossly unfair to the player. He should be picked until he loses form or fitness end of story.

    The bowler who is not contributing at the moment is Nathan Lyon, who must be left out for Bird. I think it goes to show that on a supposedly 'spinning' wicket that the quicks got all the wickets. Imagine if Bird had played and not Lyon... we may have just got the win by bowling England out earlier in their first innings.

    The pecking order for bowlers based on form+record at the moment has to be Harris, Bird, Pattinson, Siddle, Starc. The spinners in this country are just not cutting it, and so should be left out.

    How come Steve O'Keefe, with the best record in the country by FAR for the last 5 years never gets a game?

  • hycIass on August 8, 2013, 0:34 GMT

    Agree Edward, fantastic to see us stick to our top 6, the likes of Smith, Khawaja and Warner will come good as we are finally showing some faith in our younger batsman, well done boof.

  • BillyLightfoot on August 8, 2013, 0:20 GMT

    I agree with Mitto2 on Hughes. I certainly think he is our long term opener and should be in the team. He had one failed test and was dropped. I like Kawaja and Smith being in the team but neither have the talent or temperament of Hughes - he has hit big hundreds all his life in all forms of the game and like Matt Hayden before him, has taken time to find feet at the international level. I have no doubt he will and I think of all the batsman to stick with - he is the man.

  • Amith_S on August 8, 2013, 0:18 GMT

    Great decision to get Bird in. Really glad to see the same batting lineup, we need to show faith in the top 6, Watson and Rogers will fire at the top, Khawaja is our best first drop and will fire assuming he doesn't get shocking calls against him and Warner will also gain confidence from his last dig.

  • Gurudumu on August 8, 2013, 0:07 GMT

    Why Hughes (walking wicket) keeps being mentioned as the future of Australian cricket is beyond me. He does not have the technique to play Tests - in fact, he does not have the class to play any international cricket be it ODI, T20 or Test. Do the names S Marsh, Finch, Doolan and Maddinson ring a bell? How many chances does Hughes need? If those guys were given a quarter of the chances that he had, the Australian cricket team would have been certainly better, stronger and more competitive.

  • on August 7, 2013, 23:11 GMT

    @Edwards_Anderson... Back that 100%... to me that order just makes sense, 4 suits warner better than Watson, Clarke and Smith at 5 and 6 means its more than likely Swann will have to contend with our best players of spin

  • MinusZero on August 7, 2013, 23:06 GMT

    I believe you should pick the best side, if someone gets injured deal with it then. These guys are professionals. Not quite sure how Watson keeps putting in inept performances and yet still deserves selection. Behind close door deals going on i think.

  • on August 7, 2013, 23:03 GMT

    Unbelievable to me that Shane Watson is going to play again, especially if he bats in the middle order. He's basically in the team as an all rounder at this point, but he's still taking up space that surely would be better for Phil Hughes or Ed Cowan to occupy.

    And what was all the talk of this Fawad Ahmed guy being our leg spinning saviour? Not even any talk of trying him out?

    Sadly, after the improvement in the third test, I fear the Aussies are going to get trounced here.

  • heathrf1974 on August 7, 2013, 22:42 GMT

    I'm good with that. There's still an Ashes to play in Australia and Harris is our best bowler, so a bit of cotton wool treatment mightn,t hurt. I would like Australia to retain Lyon (he's our best spinner and they must persevere) and pick Bird for Harris.

  • Richie_P on August 7, 2013, 22:29 GMT

    Australia should definitely play their best side. Don't forget, if they are 2-2 after Oval it will be almost as if they've won the series given they would almost certainly had won at OT. Plenty to still play for.

    So many 'if only' and 'buts' for the Aussie fans

    The truth is that England have been better for the majority of this series, England have won this series. Now it's time to rest a few players and prepare to retain the series in Oz

  • sifter132 on August 7, 2013, 22:10 GMT

    Bird should be in anyway. It's just a matter of whether for Harris or for the largely underwhelming Starc.

  • Puffin on August 7, 2013, 21:45 GMT

    Good idea to rest Harris, wearing him out isn't going to get the Ashes back here in England, resting him might allow him to add something to regain them once back home.

    I do worry about the England bowlers in this respect. Anderson in particular is going to be difficult to replace.

  • Matt. on August 7, 2013, 21:44 GMT

    I'd love to see Harris, Siddle and Bird. I think Starc has a big future, and he sure is handy with the bat, but those three with Watson would build some serious pressure. It would be a nightmare if Harris broke down mid-test though

  • crikkfan on August 7, 2013, 21:42 GMT

    Isn't the series still alive - the test is not a dead rubber even though the Ashes is gone! This is when the risk still has to be taken with Harris considering he is the premium bowler. I would be equally shocked if Anderson is 'rested'. Onions should come in for lacklustre Broad and then we'll have a match !

  • Chris_P on August 7, 2013, 21:33 GMT

    As previously posted, I got no issues with any of the quick bowlers selected as they are all top shelf with specific strengths. Harris needs to be looked after as he showed his class to any who had doubts prior.

  • Edwards_Anderson on August 7, 2013, 21:14 GMT

    Good to see Bird included, for the batting i would stick to Watson opening wiht Rogers, Khawaja at 3 and with Warner at 4 allowing Clarke to be at his best position at 5.

  • Ozcricketwriter on August 7, 2013, 21:08 GMT

    I wouldn't risk him. Bring Bird in. Bird is a mighty good bowler. You won't be losing a lot. Faulkner should be feeling mighty unlucky at still being overlooked too.

  • Whatsgoinoffoutthere on August 7, 2013, 21:05 GMT

    The trouble with the "Player X can bowl a bit and cover for Player Y" approach is that in practice it doesn't really work like that. In practice, if a hard to remove partnership arises at an inconvenient time, you'll naturally want to be able to call upon your best bowlers as much as you can. Hence for England, Anderson looks tired and should be rested. Likewise, Harris should rest for Australia. Jackson Bird looks to be a very good prospect and deserves a chance. He might be second choice, but he isn't second best.

  • Mitty2 on August 7, 2013, 21:01 GMT

    Also, i find it absolutely ridiculous that Hughes isn't playing. He is still young, and the only real young batsman we have that has the obvious potential to become very very good. He can't start against spin, he has vastly improved his technique against pace and has opened for the majority of his career... Surely that's enough incentive to open with him? Watson provides absolutely nothing with the bat and hughes has the highest average on tour. Watson isn't the future and Hughes is. Watson has no room for improvement (81 innings and two centuries.... and he's 32...), whereas Hughes still has massive potential. The fact that the divisive Watson is still playing test cricket is an indictment on this team. Can only feel for Hughes who has constantly been shuffled around. Take England's stance and be consistent with players and positions.

    Hughes and Warner should open (both can't start against spin). Rogers, Clarke, Khawaja at 3,4 and 5 respectively. Smith at 6 where he should always be

  • Mitty2 on August 7, 2013, 20:54 GMT

    @sirviv1973, you have a fair (probably true) point, but even so I have to hate and disagree with it. It was the only reason we picked Agar and now should be the only reason we're picking Starc even though Lehmann said that it was because he'd provide footmarks for lyon. Bird averages 10 less with the bowl than Starc and takes on average two more wickets a match... Surely that would be of superior importance than Starc's OK batting??

  • Mitty2 on August 7, 2013, 20:39 GMT

    Agree with @whoster, Harris is a fantastic bowler - a test average of 22 is testament to that - and many would (except England) prefer him playing rather than not. Him and Siddle have been excellent, and people suggesting that Siddle be left out would be feeling a little guilty... But they both have been let down by (who else?) Mitchell Starc. He relieved pressure when he came on after their spells and often he looks more innocuous than Hilfenhaus against SA. Jackson Bird should have played the first test (really ridiculous that he didn't) and is quite comfortably the best bowler in Aus along with Harris. His record is extremely good - he averages five wickets a match to Starc's 3 and averages less than 20 runs a wicket in both FC and tests compared to Starc's average of above 30 in tests and FC - and as many like to say, would be "ideal in English conditions".

    They said the same about Starc so take that expression with a grain of salt, but an attack of Harris/Siddle/Bird is perfect.

  • Rashgul on August 7, 2013, 20:28 GMT

    I would think about dropping Lyon and putting in Bird. With a 4-pronged pace attack, that could be quite potent on the Durham wicket and it gives Michael Clarke the option of resting Harris as and when he badly needs the rest. The batting order has to remain the same. Perhaps, this could be an option: Warner, Rodgers, Watto, Clarke, Smith Khawaja

  • on August 7, 2013, 20:20 GMT

    Would bring him in for Starc as the pitch will probably not be to Starc's liking and Watson will bowl a decent amount of overs to cover Harris and prevent him from being over bowled.

  • SirViv1973 on August 7, 2013, 20:16 GMT

    The tail has been a massive plus for Aus in the series so far so I would expect Starc to play. To exclude him would leave Aus with the long tail of Siddle, Harris,Lyon,Bird. PS certainly can bat but he has not contributed anything in the series so far & although RH & N are capable they do not have the ability of Agar & Pattinson. I wonder if Starc's batting ability didn't get him the nod over Bird for the last test?. However the big question surrounds the selection of Harris. Aus would prefer not to have to play him in back to back tests but given his impact in the series so far they will not want to go in to this test without him. If he is deemed fit enough then it will probably be the only good thing for Aus to have come out of Mon downpour. If he would have ended up bowling 20 odd overs on the final day, Aus would surely have had to leave him out of this 1. If RH is fit & conditions suit I wouldn't be surprised to see oz go with all 4 quicks & leave Smith to do the spinners role.

  • anton1234 on August 7, 2013, 19:38 GMT

    Australia should definitely play their best side. Don't forget, if they are 2-2 after Oval it will be almost as if they've won the series given they would almost certainly had won at OT. Plenty to still play for.

  • GenuineNumber11 on August 7, 2013, 19:13 GMT

    It is a dead series now, so I reckon Harris should be rested for a game and Bird should be given some Ashes experience. I dare say he will be needed in Australia later in the year. Starc should play. The thing I like about Starc is the balance he brings to the bowling - Harris is deadly with the new ball, then Siddle gets wickets when the ball has lost a bit of shine and Starc gets wickets with the old ball with reverse swing.

  • on August 7, 2013, 19:05 GMT

    I think this is Australia's best line up and they should persist with it for the next one year with changes only if there are injuries. You need to give some continuity to players if you expect them to perform. Suggested line up in batting order would be : Warner, Cowan, Watson, Clarke, Khawaja, Smith, Haddin, Starc, Harris or Pattinson, Siddle, Lyon.

  • on August 7, 2013, 18:29 GMT

    Bird should be in for Starc, Starc is a good bowler but hasn't found his plan in England, where as bird has from past tour.

  • on August 7, 2013, 18:29 GMT

    Bird should be in for Starc, Starc is a good bowler but hasn't found his plan in England, where as bird has from past tour.

  • on August 7, 2013, 19:05 GMT

    I think this is Australia's best line up and they should persist with it for the next one year with changes only if there are injuries. You need to give some continuity to players if you expect them to perform. Suggested line up in batting order would be : Warner, Cowan, Watson, Clarke, Khawaja, Smith, Haddin, Starc, Harris or Pattinson, Siddle, Lyon.

  • GenuineNumber11 on August 7, 2013, 19:13 GMT

    It is a dead series now, so I reckon Harris should be rested for a game and Bird should be given some Ashes experience. I dare say he will be needed in Australia later in the year. Starc should play. The thing I like about Starc is the balance he brings to the bowling - Harris is deadly with the new ball, then Siddle gets wickets when the ball has lost a bit of shine and Starc gets wickets with the old ball with reverse swing.

  • anton1234 on August 7, 2013, 19:38 GMT

    Australia should definitely play their best side. Don't forget, if they are 2-2 after Oval it will be almost as if they've won the series given they would almost certainly had won at OT. Plenty to still play for.

  • SirViv1973 on August 7, 2013, 20:16 GMT

    The tail has been a massive plus for Aus in the series so far so I would expect Starc to play. To exclude him would leave Aus with the long tail of Siddle, Harris,Lyon,Bird. PS certainly can bat but he has not contributed anything in the series so far & although RH & N are capable they do not have the ability of Agar & Pattinson. I wonder if Starc's batting ability didn't get him the nod over Bird for the last test?. However the big question surrounds the selection of Harris. Aus would prefer not to have to play him in back to back tests but given his impact in the series so far they will not want to go in to this test without him. If he is deemed fit enough then it will probably be the only good thing for Aus to have come out of Mon downpour. If he would have ended up bowling 20 odd overs on the final day, Aus would surely have had to leave him out of this 1. If RH is fit & conditions suit I wouldn't be surprised to see oz go with all 4 quicks & leave Smith to do the spinners role.

  • on August 7, 2013, 20:20 GMT

    Would bring him in for Starc as the pitch will probably not be to Starc's liking and Watson will bowl a decent amount of overs to cover Harris and prevent him from being over bowled.

  • Rashgul on August 7, 2013, 20:28 GMT

    I would think about dropping Lyon and putting in Bird. With a 4-pronged pace attack, that could be quite potent on the Durham wicket and it gives Michael Clarke the option of resting Harris as and when he badly needs the rest. The batting order has to remain the same. Perhaps, this could be an option: Warner, Rodgers, Watto, Clarke, Smith Khawaja

  • Mitty2 on August 7, 2013, 20:39 GMT

    Agree with @whoster, Harris is a fantastic bowler - a test average of 22 is testament to that - and many would (except England) prefer him playing rather than not. Him and Siddle have been excellent, and people suggesting that Siddle be left out would be feeling a little guilty... But they both have been let down by (who else?) Mitchell Starc. He relieved pressure when he came on after their spells and often he looks more innocuous than Hilfenhaus against SA. Jackson Bird should have played the first test (really ridiculous that he didn't) and is quite comfortably the best bowler in Aus along with Harris. His record is extremely good - he averages five wickets a match to Starc's 3 and averages less than 20 runs a wicket in both FC and tests compared to Starc's average of above 30 in tests and FC - and as many like to say, would be "ideal in English conditions".

    They said the same about Starc so take that expression with a grain of salt, but an attack of Harris/Siddle/Bird is perfect.

  • Mitty2 on August 7, 2013, 20:54 GMT

    @sirviv1973, you have a fair (probably true) point, but even so I have to hate and disagree with it. It was the only reason we picked Agar and now should be the only reason we're picking Starc even though Lehmann said that it was because he'd provide footmarks for lyon. Bird averages 10 less with the bowl than Starc and takes on average two more wickets a match... Surely that would be of superior importance than Starc's OK batting??

  • Mitty2 on August 7, 2013, 21:01 GMT

    Also, i find it absolutely ridiculous that Hughes isn't playing. He is still young, and the only real young batsman we have that has the obvious potential to become very very good. He can't start against spin, he has vastly improved his technique against pace and has opened for the majority of his career... Surely that's enough incentive to open with him? Watson provides absolutely nothing with the bat and hughes has the highest average on tour. Watson isn't the future and Hughes is. Watson has no room for improvement (81 innings and two centuries.... and he's 32...), whereas Hughes still has massive potential. The fact that the divisive Watson is still playing test cricket is an indictment on this team. Can only feel for Hughes who has constantly been shuffled around. Take England's stance and be consistent with players and positions.

    Hughes and Warner should open (both can't start against spin). Rogers, Clarke, Khawaja at 3,4 and 5 respectively. Smith at 6 where he should always be