Australian pair to undergo fitness examinations after win in Melbourne.
Skipper Michael Clarke says Ryan Harris and Shane Watson will play if they are fit and available as Australia pursue a 5-0 series whitewash against England in Sydney.
Paceman Harris and all-rounder Watson are in some doubt to play in this week’s final Ashes Test after featuring in Australia’s eight-wicket victory over the tourists in Melbourne on Sunday.
Harris has general wear and tear from bowling in four consecutive Tests over the last five weeks, while Watson injured a groin muscle while bowling in England’s first innings in Melbourne.
Clarke said the pair would be assessed by the team’s medical staff to check on their availability for the Sydney Test starting Friday , but they would play if fit.
“I am not sure about Watto (Watson) being able to bowl in Sydney. We have some extra time and that will considerably help him,” Clarke told reporters.
“If Ryan Harris is fit to play I don’t see any reason why the selectors won’t pick him, but that will be up to the medical staff and the selectors, and Watto will be the same. If they’re both fit I certainly want them playing.”
Clarke said he did not countenance any thoughts of resting Harris for the final Test ahead of Australia’s tour of South Africa in March.
“I want to win this next Test match. As I’ve said since taking over the captaincy, if you are 100 percent able to perform at your best then I don’t see any reason why you shouldn’t be selected,” he said.
“The Sydney Test match is no different to this Melbourne Test match, our goal is now to definitely win the next Test match and hopefully the selectors will pick the best team available to play.”
Coach Darren Lehmann said Harris was a question mark for Sydney at this stage.
“I would say he is doubtful but until we see the medical staff and see how he recovers — the extra day gives us five-day turnaround — but we will have to wait and see.
“It’s everything with him. He is a valuable bowler so we won’t take any risks. But if he is fit and can get through and do a job for his captain, he will play.”
Lehmann said there was a possibility of playing two spinners on the normally spin-friendly SCG pitch, and number six batsman George Bailey needed to score runs with just 136 in six innings in this series.
“We’ll have to speak to the SCG curator, see what he’s going to prepare. You don’t know about the weather, what’s going on,” he said.
“We’ll have to sit down as a selection panel tonight and tomorrow morning and come up with some solutions for that. It’s (two spinners) a possibility. But until we get some better info I don’t know which way we’ll go.
“George needs to make some runs, like a lot of other players. The simple fact is our first innings batting hasn’t been good enough. Even in Adelaide it was Clarke and Brad Haddin who got that big partnership.”