Australia to consider Clark

Australia are thinking strongly of bringing in Stuart Clark, in place of either Peter Siddle or Mitchell Johnson, for the fourth Ashes Test at Headingley.

Clark is a tall bowler who hits the seem and will give Australia the control that they clearly badly missed at Edgbaston. Ben Hilfenhaus is doing a fine job but the rest of the seam attack is a concern and that’s why Clark is close to playing.

The final day at Edgbaston belonged to Michael Clarke and Marcus North, who both batted brilliantly to make sure of the draw after good application earlier on from Shane Watson and Michael Hussey. 

England needed to take a couple of wickets at least in the first hour of the day, and if they had done that then Australia might have struggled.

But Watson and Hussey both did a wonderful job to blunt the England attack. Clarke and North were then brilliant in the way they went about their batting, and Australia will go to Headingley in a better frame of mind.

To be fair to England’s bowlers, there was no sideways movement either off the pitch or in the air on the final day, while I thought Graeme Swann was disappointing – especially after the way he had dismissed Ricky Ponting on the fourth evening – and bowled much too flat.

Andrew Flintoff, meanwhile, is clearly struggling with his knee and England face an anxious few days to see if he will be fit for Headingley.

Whatever happens, I can see Ryan Sidebottom coming in to the England team on a ground he knows so well, while Steve Harmison will also be in contention for a place.

To those who say that you might just need four seamers at Headingley, and no spinner, I would reply that it would be a selection fraught with danger.

The Headingley pitch is a bit different these days to what it traditionally was like in the past, and you need a spinner there. There is swing available most of the time, but not too much seam movement, and I believe a spinner is important to have for the right balance to an attack.

I don’t think Brett Lee is going to fit enough for Headingley, and Brett himself will not want to play unless he is 100 per cent sure of being able to do the job, but it will be very interesting to see the final selection decisions that both England and Australia make as to their starting line-ups.   

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