Fast bowler Mitchell Johnson will bat at No. 7 in the third and final test against Sri Lanka starting Thursday, giving Australia the chance to unleash a four-man pace attack as it aims to wrap a series sweep at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Mitchell Starc returns after being rested from Australia’s three-day win in Melbourne, with injured allrounder Shane Watson making way.
Captain Michael Clarke said Johnson’s form with the bat, coming off an unbeaten 92 in the second Test, and a green wicket had influenced selection.
“A fair bit of grass on the wicket, the boys bowled really well in the last Test match,” Clarke said. “And bringing Mitchell Starc back into the team obviously helps our attack, especially with the form he’s in.”
“Mitchell Johnson’s batting, he’s batting as well as an all-rounder now anyway.”
Clarke, who scored and Australian record of 1,595 test runs at an average of 106 last year, moves up a spot to replace Watson at No. 4, with the retiring Michael Hussey and wicketkeeper Matthew Wade coming in behind him.
“I’m confident we’ve got enough batting still with Matthew Wade at six and Mitchell Johnson at seven and we’ve got extra bowling which is a real positive for us,” Clarke said.
Usman Khawaja has been placed on standby for Clarke, but the skipper is expected to overcome a hamstring problem, sustained in the first test, and play.
“I think my hamstring’s better than it was in Melbourne. If I didn’t think I could perform at my best I wouldn’t take the field,” said Clarke. “It certainly won’t be because of my hamstring that I don’t make a big score.”
Australia Ed Cowan, David Warner, Phil Hughes, Michael Clarke (captain), Michael Hussey, Matthew Wade, Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Jackson Bird.