Australia appear almost certain to change their winning team as they replace out-of-form batsman Peter Handscomb with all-rounder Mitchell Marsh in the third Ashes Test.
The urn will be in the hosts’ grasp if they can open up a 3-0 lead in Perth, and it appears only a time warp at the WACA can stop Marsh returning to the team alongside his brother Shaun.
Conditions for the final Ashes Test at this famous venue are unlikely to veer towards the extreme pace of a previous era, with another out-and-out batsman’s pitch instead in the offing.
Captain Steve Smith said nothing at his pre-match press conference to dispel the theory that Australia would therefore prefer the insurance of an extra bowling option.
He said: “It’s tough – and if we do go down that route then it’s purely for the reasons that we think we need an extra bowler, nothing to do with anyone’s batting.
“The stats suggest over the last couple of years that the bowlers have had a fairly heavy workload (here), so we’re probably leaning down that way at the moment.
“If we do go down the route of Pete missing out it’s unlucky … we still see a very bright future for him.
“There’s no reason why he won’t be back in the team soon.”
Only a dramatic alteration overnight to the complexion of the pitch could bring a change of mind.
“It’ll depend on what we think the wicket is like tomorrow,” added Smith.
“If it’s going to be hard, fast and bouncy that might again change our thinking.
“It’s probably not as hard as I would have liked it to be a day out.
“But 24 hours can change a wicket … I hope it (gets) a bit harder and faster.”
Australia have been careful, meanwhile, to make no significant comment on the off-the-field vexations of their opponents.
England had to discipline Lions batsman Ben Duckett over the weekend, after it emerged he had poured a drink over the head of all-time leading wicket-taker James Anderson in a Perth bar.
Asked what were his immediate thoughts on hearing about that, Smith said: “Interesting …
“(But) I am not bothered with what England are doing. That is for them to deal with.”
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