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Ashes: Andy Flower hints England may rest Steve Finn

Fourth Ashes Test: Australia v England
Venue: Melbourne Dates: 26-30 December Start time: 2330 GMT on 25 December
Coverage: Listen live on Test Match Special on BBC 5 live sports extra, Radio 4 LW & online; highlights (UK only) and day's review on the TMS podcast; live text commentary on BBC Sport website; live on Sky Sports 1; highlights on ITV4

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Changes 'always an option' - Flower

England will stick with four bowlers for the fourth Ashes Test in Melbourne but coach Andy Flower has hinted paceman Steve Finn could be rested.

The 21-year-old is England's leading wicket taker in the series with 14 but was expensive in the third Test and looked exhausted to many observers.

"I think we expect a lot of these young men, to come in and shoulder a lot of responsibility," said Flower.

"A five-Test series is hard on everyone - for the fast bowlers even more so."

The 6ft 8in Finn has taken his wickets at an average of 33.14 but he was expensive in Perth as Australia won the third Test by 267 runs to level the series at 1-1, picking up 5-183 at a cost of more than five runs per over.

TOM FORDYCE BLOG
BBC Sport's Tom Fordyce

"I think Steven Finn has done really well, for a 21-year-old coming into an Ashes series in Australia he's handled himself superbly - he's taken a lot of wickets in three Test matches," said Flower.

However, the coach added that with only three rest days between the Melbourne game, which starts on Boxing Day, and the final Test in Sydney, it is important England manage their resources effectively.

"The workload on our bowlers is heavy, [but] in the absence of a quality all-rounder we're sticking with our four bowler attack," said Flower.

"We've got a few days now to re-assess prior to Melbourne and the bottom line is we'll pick the XI that we think will have the best chance of winning in Melbourne."

If Finn is left out of the side for the fourth Test, then one of Yorkshire duo Tim Bresnan and Ajmal Shahzad would come into the side.

Bresnan has more experience at Test level and is a better batsman, but Shahzad's ability against left handers could see him get the nod given that Australian left hander Michael Hussey averages over 100 in the series.

Chris Tremlett came into the side in Perth as replacement for the injured Stuart Broad and enjoyed a fine match, claiming eight wickets, including second-innings figures of 5-87.

But England need to improve their batting after mustering only 310 runs and failing to last 100 overs across their two innings in Perth.

"Now's not a time to panic," said skipper Andrew Strauss.

"You've got to look at this in the context of the whole tour and two bad performances doesn't mean you should be jumping around looking for replacements here and there. But at the same time we've got to be better than we were."

There have been calls for England to move the in-form Ian Bell up the order to number five, with Paul Collingwood dropping down one place.

Bell has scored 213 runs at an average of 71 and has often found himself batting with the tail, while Collingwood has managed only 62 at an average of 15.5.

606: DEBATE

"Ian Bell looks in very good form, he's very confident and he's played beautifully throughout this tour," added Flower.

"Jiggling with batting orders and personnel is always an option but you also have to be careful about altering a side that's been very successful over the last 18 months. Of course those options are always open."

Meanwhile, Australian fast bowler Ryan Harris claimed he was not happy with the way he bowled during the Perth Test despite taking 6-47 in the second innings.

"I wasn't very happy with the way I bowled, the feeling I had wasn't great, but the positive out of that is I've taken six wickets," said the 31-year-old.

"I'll take that away, I've got a few things to work on in Melbourne which I'll do, but I'm pretty happy with the result.

"The best thing I can do is not think about it, go out and bowl and do what I do best, which is bash the wicket."



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see also
England crash to heavy Ashes loss
19 Dec 10 |  England
Strauss will not rule out changes
19 Dec 10 |  England
Jonathan Agnew column
19 Dec 10 |  Cricket
England in Australia 2010-11
08 Oct 09 |  Cricket
Live cricket on the BBC
26 Oct 11 |  Cricket


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