Sentiment won’t come into play for SCG team
AUSTRALIA'S campaign for a 5-0 Ashes series whitewash against England starts at the SCG today, but captain Michael Clarke was adamant it was not the time or place to get sentimental with team selection.
Australia has never fielded the same side in each game of a five-Test series.
Clarke admitted taking an unchanged team into the game would be a good storyline, but said it was important to pick the best 11 players to help you have success in the conditions.
"I think it would be extremely romantic," Clarke said.
"If conditions turn out to be similar to what they have been in the past four Test matches then I think selectors will go that way.
"But we certainly need to pick our best team to win this Test match."
And if selection is to be based on conditions, Tasmanian seam bowling all-rounder James Faulkner should come into contention after Clarke said the wicket looked green and would suit the fast bowlers.
If Faulkner earns his second Test cap, he will replace struggling middle-order batsman George Bailey.
Bailey is averaging 27.20 in the series with just one half-century.
Australia also has fitness concerns over all-rounder Shane Watson and paceman Ryan Harris, but both bowled in the final net session yesterday.
Clarke said a decision on the final line-up would not be made until this morning.
While Australia was possibly looking at making one change, England looked set to hand debuts to leg-spinning batsman Scott Borthwick, middle-order batsman Gary Ballance, and giant quick Boyd Rankin.
They would replace Monty Panesar, Michael Carberry and Tim Bresnan respectively.
If all three play, it would be the first time England has had three debutants in the same Test team since playing India in Nagpur in March 2006 when Panesar, Ian Blackwell and now captain Alastair Cook all won their first caps.
The changes would see Joe Root move up to open with Cook and Ian Bell replace Root at three. Ballance would bat at five, which he does for Yorkshire in the English County Championship, while Borthwick, a scorer of four first-class hundreds, would come in at No.8.
Cook ruled out any chance of an immediate recall for out-of-form wicketkeeper Matt Prior after the gloveman was dropped in favour of Jonny Bairstow for the fourth Test.
Bairstow had a poor game with the gloves and the bat, scoring just 10 and 21, but his captain was sticking by him yesterday.
"I think Jonny deserves another chance, it's very difficult to come in for one Test match," Cook said.
"We know he's a very talented cricketer. He's got another opportunity in this Test match to show that," he added.
Australia: Chris Rogers, David Warner, Shane Watson, Michael Clarke (capt), Steven Smith, Brad Haddin (wk), James Faulkner, Mitchell Johnson, Ryan Harris, Peter Siddle, Nathan Lyon.
England: Alastair Cook (capt), Joe Root, Ian Bell, Kevin Pietersen, Garry Ballance, Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Scott Borthwick, Stuart Broad, James Anderson, Boyd Rankin.