Ricky Ponting has admitted Australia's bowling attack has "come back to the pack a little bit in Test cricket" as they struggle to match the Warne-McGrath era. Australia were unable to force a result in the second Test in Antigua on Tuesday despite bowling for a full day, and Ponting is considering altering his plans for the final game in Barbados from June 12.
Stuart Clark could return to the new-ball duties he has craved, with the developing Mitchell Johnson dropped to first-change, while Beau Casson is in line to to replace Stuart MacGill. Ponting also expects to use more of the part-time spin of Michael Clarke and Andrew Symonds.
Brett Lee was outstanding in taking career-best figures of 8 for 110 in Antigua, but there was less impact from his support staff. "As far as our attack goes, we've probably just come back to the pack a little bit in Test cricket," Ponting said in the Sydney Morning Herald. "We've got Brett and Stuey [Clark], who are outstanding Test bowlers, and we've got Mitch, who is a work in progress, and we could very well have a young spinner the next game. I'm excited about that."
Ponting said it had been challenging operating without Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne. "Brett's done a very good job of standing up in Glenn's absence over the last 12 months and will continue to lead the attack well I'm sure," he said. "The next spinner is the interesting one for me. We'll see how that pans out."
Johnson, who is playing his first overseas Tests, has taken only five wickets in the opening two matches and is expected to be part of a bowling reshuffle. "I don't have any concern with Mitch," Ponting said. "We're probably going to look at Stuey opening the bowling more often than not now, for a number of reasons, like in these sorts of conditions. Mitchell is a great athlete, and generally he'll do what I ask of him."