AFTER a war of attrition in the drawn second Test in Adelaide, Australian selectors have added three new fast bowlers to the squad for the series-decider starting in Perth on Friday.
Pacemen Josh Hazlewood, John Hastings and Mitchell Johnson have all been included in a 14-man squad, with James Pattinson already ruled out with a side strain sustained in the first innings in Adelaide.
The young Victorian was unable to bowl in South Africa's second innings, forcing Peter Siddle in particular to shoulder much of the workload yesterday.
With just three days before the start of the third Test, which will decide which country has the world No.1 ranking, selectors will no doubt be guided by the advice of medical staff regarding Siddle's likely ability to get through what could be another gruelling five-day battle.
The position of Ben Hilfenhaus in the starting XI must also be in doubt, with Starc, Hastings and Johnson, who have all picked up plenty of wickets in their most recent Sheffield Shield matches, sure to come under strong consideration.
Victorian top order batsman Rob Quiney has been left out of the squad, his position at No.3 to be taken by vice-captain Shane Watson who is ready to return from a calf injury that kept him out of the first two Tests.
Despite failing in his three innings in Brisbane and Adelaide, former captain Ricky Ponting is a certain starter in Perth, new skipper Michael Clarke backing the 37 year-old to make a big score on the bouncy WACA wicket.
"He (Ponting) was the leading run scorer in Sheffield Shield cricket leading up to this series," Clarke said.
"Once he gets in, I've no doubt he'll go on to make a good score."
Clarke also said he hoped the Perth wicket provided a fair contest for both batsmen and bowlers, unlike the deck he was critical of when New South Wales beat Western Australia inside three days in a Shield match last month.
"I spoke to the groundsman after that match and told him I was very disappointed the match only lasted a bit more than two days," Clarke said.
"I hope it's got pace and bounce, but I'd be disappointed if the toss of the coin decided the Test match."
South Africa is also likely to make several changes for Perth.
Spinner Imran Tahir is likely to be dumped after returning 0-260 in Adelaide, with fast bowler Vernon Philander expected to come under consideration after recovering from back spasms that kept him out of the second Test.
Captain Graeme Smith said champion all-rounder Jacques Kallis was a chance to play as a batsman in Perth despite straining his hamstring while bowling in the first innings in Adelaide.
Australian squad: M Clarke (c), S Watson, D Warner, E Cowan, R Ponting, M Hussey, M Wade, P Siddle, B Hilfenhaus, N Lyon, M Starc, J Hazlewood, J Hastings, M Johnson.
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