Aus may play 5 bowlers in Oval Test
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Aus may play 5 bowlers in Oval Test

The Australian media believes that the selectors will choose three pace bowlers and leg-spinners Warne and MacGill.

india Updated: Sep 06, 2005 18:26 IST

Australia, desperately needing a win to hold on to the Ashes, are considering playing five specialist bowlers in the fifth Test at The Oval, Australian media said on Tuesday.

Australia have relied heavily on just four bowlers through much of their golden spell over the past decade and so playing an extra bowler would underline their concern after being outshot in three of the last four Tests in the series against England.

Newspapers here believe selectors will choose three pace bowlers and leg-spinners Shane Warne and Stuart MacGill, even though MacGill has had limited bowling time on tour.

The last time Australia went into a Test with a five-man bowling attack was during the 2003 tour of the Caribbean when they were confronted by a series of flat, lifeless pitches.

"The deciding factor in its plans will be the fitness of strike bowler Glenn McGrath whose debilitating right elbow injury continues to improve but he has yet to prove he has fully recovered," The Australian's Andrew Ramsay said.

"It is the ongoing doubt over McGrath's availability which has caused the greatest angst for chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns, coach John Buchanan and captain Ricky Ponting in the lead-up to Australia's most important Test in four years."

Ramsay said should McGrath be cleared to play in Thursday's Test he could lead an attack with pacemen Brett Lee and Shaun Tait as well as the two leg-spinners.

There had been no final decision reached on whether all-rounder Shane Watson will be drafted into the squad, he said.

The Australian said the call of the toss would be important as The Oval pitch traditionally offers early pace and bounce for the seamers and then flattens out into one of England's best batting tracks before taking spin.

Australia also believe England may change their game plan knowing they need only to draw the last Test to win the Ashes for the first time since 1986, the paper said.

The Melbourne Herald Sun said Australian team officials have been in marathon talks over the past two days discussing the option of dropping a batsman, almost certainly Simon Katich, and playing five bowlers.

"Winning the toss and batting first would go a long way towards justifying the move," The Melbourne Herald Sun's Robert Craddock said.

"It would mean Australia would have leg-spinners Warne and MacGill for the last, highly-pressured innings of the series on a wicket tipped to turn."

"The only certainty is that Australia, trailing 2-1 in the series, must take 20 wickets to retain the Ashes. There is no four-man attack that gives it peace of mind, particularly against an England side that could have an extra batsman, Paul Collingwood, if quick Simon Jones is deemed unfit.

"Australia would have a long tail with Tait, McGrath and McGill, but no gamble comes without risks," he said.

First Published: Sep 06, 2005 13:10 IST