Stuart MacGill and Brad Hogg will have to wait a while longer to find out who gets the spinner's spot after Australia named both in a squad of 13 for next week's first Test against Sri Lanka. There were no surprises in the squad, which includes Phil Jaques as opener.
The third fast bowler's spot will also be decided later with Shaun Tait and Mitchell Johnson, who is in line for his debut, both included. Johnson has spent a lot of time learning over the past year, including long stints on the sidelines as he waited for openings in the Test and one-day teams. In India, though, he took 11 wickets at 19.45 in the one-dayers last month.
The first of two Tests begins on November 8 in Brisbane, with Australia aiming to maintain their unbeaten record at home against Sri Lanka. The squad will be reduced to 12 on Wednesday, and the 12th man will subsequently be released to play for his state.
MacGill, who has had success at the Gabba with 11 wickets at 26.45, was thought to be Shane Warne's natural replacement but Hogg bowled himself into contention following his performance in this week's Pura Cup. While MacGill had match figures of 4 for 280 from 55 overs at the SCG, Hogg took 8 for 83 in 31.3 overs at the MCG to bowl Western Australia to the win.
Andrew Hilditch, the chairman of selectors, said: "Stuart MacGill is an excellent legspinner with a great record for Australia and Brad Hogg, despite limited four-day experience due to his outstanding one-day record, is coming off a very strong performance for Western Australia in the Pura Cup.
"Having both of them in the squad gives us the opportunity again to assess the conditions and decide on what selection is best for the team." He confirmed that the way the Gabba usually plays means they will almost certainly pick only one of them. "We will see how they're going in the build-up. There's not much prospect of [playing] two spinners."
On the fast bowlers, he said: "It is fairly standard to select four fast bowlers in the Australian squad. The bowlers we have chosen are all different and all bring exciting aspects to the team. Again the conditions in Brisbane will play a large role in determining the final makeup of our fast-bowling line-up."
He said Jaques thoroughly deserved the chance to open following Justin Langer's post-Ashes retirement in January. "These are very big shoes to fill but we are really quite excited about the new era. This is a richly deserved opportunity for Phil after years of excellent Pura Cup performances, an extremely impressive Australia A tour of Pakistan and another strong start to the 2007-08 season."
Squad Matthew Hayden, Phil Jaques, Ricky Ponting (capt), Mike Hussey, Michael Clarke, Andrew Symonds, Adam Gilchrist (wk), Brett Lee, Mitchell Johnson, Stuart Clark, Shaun Tait, Brad Hogg, Stuart MacGill.