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Page last updated at 23:43 GMT, Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Ashes: Australia ponder four-man pace attack for Perth

Third Ashes Test: Australia v England
Venue: Perth Dates: 16-20 December Start time: 0230 GMT
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

Mitchell Johnson bowls in practice
Mitchell Johnson has career-best figures of 8-61 at the Waca

Australia may field a four-man pace attack and bowl first if captain Ricky Ponting wins the toss in the third Ashes Test against England in Perth.

Mitchell Johnson and Ben Hilfenhaus are set to be recalled and could play with Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle, while Shane Watson provides a fifth option.

Leg-spinning all-rounder Steve Smith is tipped to bat at seven.

"If it's going to be very favourable for the quicks, then you've got to think about it," said Ponting.

"You're being negligent if you don't consider it."

Australia are 1-0 down in the five-match series following an emphatic innings and 71 run defeat in Adelaide last week and are in desperate need of a victory in Perth to prevent England from retaining the Ashes before Christmas.

The Waca is traditionally the fastest pitch in Australia and the home side have lost just once in 11 Tests against England in Perth - their only defeat coming 32 years ago.

TOM FORDYCE'S BLOG

Australia have already used five fast bowlers in two Test matches, taking only 12 wickets between them as England's top order have prospered.

However, Waca groundsman Cameron Sutherland has prepared a green-tinged wicket which could tempt Ponting to bowl first should he win the toss on Thursday morning.

"If you played four quicks and you win the toss and bat and they don't get a chance to bowl on it until halfway through the second day if you bat well, whatever life that was in the pitch is probably gone," said Ponting.

"You've still got to decide what is your best attack to take 20 wickets in the conditions. We've been saying that for weeks and haven't looked like it yet [bowling England out twice]). Hopefully that comes this week."

Ponting has not put a team into bat since Edgbaston 2005, when England scored 407 on the opening day of the second Test, a match the hosts won by just two runs to level the series at 1-1 before clinching the Ashes for the first time in almost 18 years.

However, Ponting is confident Johnson can continue his excellent record in Perth. The left-arm quick has taken 21 wickets in three Tests, including a career-best 8-61 against South Africa in 2008.

The Queenslander was dropped for the second Test alongside Hilfenhaus after recording match figures of 0-170 in Brisbane, but the 29-year-old has been working extensively with Australia bowling coach Troy Cooley in the nets to recapture his best form.

"He's had a chance to get away and sort things out and he has worked exceptionally hard in Adelaide," added Ponting. "Hopefully we'll see some good stuff from him in Perth this week."

If Australia opt to use four seamers at the Waca, left-arm spinner Michael Beer is likely to miss out on his Test debut after he was drafted in to replace the ineffective Xavier Doherty in Australia's 12-man squad.

However, Ponting is confident he has enough slow-bowling cover with leg-spinner Smith and vice-captain Michael Clarke, who has 21 Test wickets.

Despite England's resounding victory in Adelaide, and with his side just one victory away from winning a series in Australia for the first time in 23 years, captain Andrew Strauss is fully expecting an Australian "backlash" at the Waca.

"They are a proud cricketing nation and they wouldn't have liked the way they were beaten in Adelaide," said the 33-year-old.

"We're expecting a bit of a backlash from them - and we've got to be strong enough to withstand that and come out the other side."



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see also
Tremlett gets nod for Perth Test
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'Fresh' Anderson ready for Perth
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Tuesday's Ashes gossip column
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Anderson returns to see new baby
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Broad to join Test Match Special
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Upbeat Beer poised for Test debut
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England complete Adelaide triumph
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England in Australia 2010-11
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