Final Test attack faces minimal tweaking
AUSTRALIA has abandoned any plans to take two spinners into the third and final Test against New Zealand at the Adelaide Oval.
Instead, the host nation will field its regular three-pronged pace attack in the historic first day-night Test, which starts today and will feature a pink ball.
It will be just a matter of which fast bowlers join Mitch Starc in the attack, with incumbent Josh Hazlewood and Victorian pair Peter Siddle and James Pattinson vying for two spots, one of which has been left vacant by the retirement of Mitchell Johnson.
The Aussies had tossed up whether to play NSW tweaker Steven O'Keefe alongside Adelaide product Nathan Lyon.
Speaking at yesterday's press conference, captain Steve Smith said O'Keefe "was considered, obviously, as he was here to train with us".
"He's done incredibly well with the pink ball and we thought he might have played a part.
"But it's not going to end up that way. We're going to go in with three quicks and an all-rounder (Mitch Marsh)."
Smith admitted the grassy Adelaide pitch had influenced the decision to not play the two spinners for the first time on Australian soil in 10 years.
"There's probably a little bit more grass than I anticipated to be on it. That added bit of grass probably swayed our decision," he said.
In a series in which the bat has been on top of the ball, Starc is the leading wicket-taker in the series, with 10 at an average of 27.80. Lyon is next best with seven at 35.85.
Hazlewood is well down on the list with just four scalps at 68.75 apiece from 77 overs.
But Smith may be reluctant to make two changes by bringing in both Siddle and Pattinson.
"The guys have had a good bowl over the past couple of days," he said.
"(Chief selector) Rodney (Marsh) was going to come down and have a look at this wicket again today. We're going to decide from there.
"(Hazlewood has) bowled beautifully in the past couple of days in the nets as well.
"It's nice to have some fresh bowlers in, with obviously Peter Siddle and James Pattinson who haven't played as much cricket as Josh has lately. It's nice to have a few fresh faces in and ready to go.
"We'll wait and see how we go with the final XI from there."
New Zealand, meanwhile, was expected to play opening bowler Trent Boult, despite the left-armer battling a back injury during the series.
Mitch Starc 10 @ 27.8
Nathan Lyon 7 @ 35.8
Mitch Johnson 7 @ 48.5
Trent Boult 6 @ 64.6
Mark Craig 6 @ 73.0
Tim Southee 5 @ 51.0
David Warner 556 @ 139
Kane Williamson 397 @ 132.3
Ross Taylor 352 @ 117.3
Usman Khawaja 304 @ 152.0
Adam Voges 244 @ 122.0
Joe Burns 240 @ 60.0