Australia captain Michael Clarke is at risk of losing his place for the fifth and final test at The KIA Oval unless he scores runs in the next test match.
Having failed to score anything better than 38 in the entire series at an average of just 20.8, Clarke is now under serious pressure to perform. Just because he is captain, he is not immune from the selection axe and vice–captain Steve Smith could very capably step up and deliver as skipper having done so in the test series against India this winter.
Who comes in could be crucial, because unless England win the fourth test at Trent Bridge the series will go to a decider in London from the 20th-24th August.
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Keep the faith or roll the dice?
There is plenty of reason to keep the faith in the skipper, he has had a glittering test career spanning over ten years, with an exceptional average of 49.73.
Despite this, his form this summer has been somewhat sketchy leading to question marks over his ability since retiring from ODI cricket after the Australian world cup success in March.
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They have the option to mix the side up a little and bring in a new face, such as Shaun Marsh. Originally pencilled in to open, Chris Rodgers’ form in English conditions saw him get the nod and he has backed the selectors up with a string of fine performances.
Marsh could easily fit in at four, as he has experience through the order and a test average of 48 batting at four.
Adam Voges – Another weak link in the chain
If the Australians replace number five Adam Voges (as seems almost certain according to many reports) they will begin running out of batsmen in the squad to select.
Assuming Voges gets the chop and Clarke under-performs, Australia would either have to play Shane Watson or bring in a new batsman from home. Michael Klinger is in outstanding form for Gloucestershire having scored runs in the Sheffield Shield.
To debut a 35-years-old for the final test would be very risky but could provide the spark the baggy greens need. Usman Khawaja was poor in the last Ashes series but has found some form of late and in the unlikely event he is called up he could present a wildcard option that England weren’t expecting.
Either way they must beat England like they did at Lords, or else the urn will return to England.