Adelaide: Michael Clarke didn't waste time after a frustrating draw against South Africa on Monday to rush Mitchell Johnson and some fresh fast bowlers into Australia's squad for the third and deciding Test in Perth.
Johnson and uncapped pair John Hastings and Josh Hazlewood were included in a 14-man squad as pace bowling options, joining left-arm quick Mitchell Starc as candidates to replace the injured James Pattinson in the Perth Test starting on Friday.
Shane Watson was included in the squad in a direct swap for Rob Quiney, who made only nine runs in three innings including a pair of ducks in Adelaide. Clarke indicated the selection means the Australian vice captain should be fit to bat and bowl after missing the two drawn tests to start the series.
Ex-captain Ricky Ponting kept his spot despite making only 20 runs so far in the series, with Clarke tipping him to make a big contribution in Perth. Pattinson injured his ribs bowling in South Africa's first innings and was only able to bat after that, adding to the workload on Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus.
Siddle appeared exhausted as he steamed in late on the final day in Adelaide, taking two late wickets to give Australia a sniff of victory with only two wickets required and a few overs to bowl. Ultimately, the Australians finished two wickets short of a win that was there for the taking.
"He's no doubt fatigued, he's bowled his heart out that's for sure," Clarke said of Siddle's condition. "But he's got three days to recover and get himself right, give himself every opportunity to get out on the park in Perth."
Siddle finished with 4-65 from 33 overs in the second innings and Hilfenhaus returned 1-65 from 34 overs.
Clarke said the selection panel chose an extended squad to give Australia as many options as possible after weighing up the conditions in Perth and the fitness of the bowling group.
"As you've just seen (Hilfenhaus) and (Siddle) have had a really heavy workload, bowled a hell of a lot in the last couple of weeks and test matches. I think we need options for Perth," Clarke said.
The 31-year-old Johnson has taken 190 wickets in 47 tests with his slingy left-arm pace but hasn't played a test since last November, when he contributed more with the bat in two unbeaten innings than he did with the ball in Australia's win over South Africa at Johannesburg. He has struggled with his consistency and line in recent seasons but has a good track record in Perth, where he now plays domestic cricket.
He took a career-best 8-61 in the Perth test in 2008 and followed up with 3-98 in the second innings. But it wasn't enough to hold off a stunning win by the South Africans, who scored 414-4 for the second-highest successful fourth-innings chase in test history.
He also took nine wickets in the Ashes test at Perth in 2010-11, backing up immediately from a terrible match in Adelaide.
Clarke said Johnson has been performing well in the Sheffield Shield for Western Australia.
"He's been bowling really well in Shield cricket, he's bowling fast and he's swinging the ball as well, which is nice to see," Clarke said. "In conditions he loves in Perth ... he'll be doing everything in his power to try to get an opportunity. If you look at Starc, Hazlewood, Hastings, Johnson, they're a very handy four fast bowlers to be taking to Perth with Siddle and Hilfenhaus. We're very lucky in Australia to have some good quicks performing well."
Selection chairman John Inverarity said Hastings and Hazlewood deserved to be considered for test cricket Hastings has played 11 limited-overs internationals for Australia and has taken wickets in Shield cricket. The 21-year-old Hazlewood made his debut for New South Wales state at 17 and played an ODI for Australia at 19.
"There is a possibility that the final XI could include four pace bowlers," he said. "The extra bowlers have been included as back-up and in recognition of the demanding workloads shouldered by Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus in the first two tests against South Africa."