Australia were expected to wrap up a 2-0 series victory over West Indies this morning but the win may have been achieved at a cost.
Phillip Hughes is lined up for a recall
Australia were expected to wrap up a 2-0 series victory over West Indies this morning but the win may have been achieved at a cost. Ricky Ponting is a doubt for the Boxing Day Test against Pakistan due to an elbow injury, and the coach Tim Nielsen has backed Phillip Hughes, 21, to return to the team if the captain misses out.
"I would think ideally we would pick a player in form and we will pick someone who can add to our group and has got the ability to make hundreds," said Nielsen. Hughes made back-to-back centuries against South Africa but was dropped after the second Ashes Test when England's bowlers began to dominate him with short deliveries. "It might mean that we had to alter our batting line up a little bit if Phil was the one selected, I'm not sure," added Nielsen, who will have noted the 122 Hughes made for New South Wales against Victoria yesterday.
"Those will be the things the selectors discuss with Ricky and it will all really depend on how he is going. He needs to have a good rest and give it a chance to recover. By the time we get to Wednesday or Thursday we will have a better idea of how he is going. I'm sure we will have a batsman in Melbourne with us to prepare but what the make-up of the team might be - that decision has to be made.''
Meanwhile, Shane Watson became the fourth player to be charged for poor behaviour during an ill-tempered third Test following his exuberant celebration of the wicket of the West Indian captain Chris Gayle yesterday. After having the dangerous left-hander caught behind for 21, the all-rounder screamed aggressively in Gayle's direction and was charged by umpires Ian Gould and Billy Bowden with bringing the game into disrepute, the same offence brought against West Indian Sulieman Benn and Australians Brad Haddin and Mitchell Johnson. "I think he needs to be careful about the way he reacts or celebrates his dismissals,'' said Nielsen.
Watson also added the wicket of Dwayne Bravo but Australia's hopes of wrapping up the match with a day to spare were frustrated by the unheralded pair of Narsingh Deonarine, who made 82 in just his fourth Test, and former Queenslander Brendan Nash (66) who produced a 128-run fourth-wicket stand. They were eventually removed but Gavin Tonge and Kemar Roach were still there at the close to leave West Indies, 308 for nine, within 51 runs of an improbable victory.
* With agencies