Perth: Australia captain Michael Clarke is wrestling with his instincts as he contemplates the selection of four pace bowlers and putting India in to bat in the third test on what is expected to be a lively wicket at the WACA track. (Agencies)
Clarke, whose unbeaten 329 helped Australia to an emphatic victory in the second test to go 2-0 up in the series last week, said he would consider going against the grain both in the selection and should he win the toss on Friday morning.
"I really find it hard to bowl first if I win the toss, no what matter conditions are like, and I find it really hard to leave a spinner out of my team," Clarke said on Thursday.
"But in saying that, we have to do whatever is best to win the test and we need to assess conditions and make a smart couple of decisions."
There was certainly more than a hint of green on the WACA wicket as it baked under the hot Western Australian sun on Thursday but head groundsman Cameron Sutherland was offering no help to Clarke and his fellow Australian selectors.
"I think it will play similar to last year," Sutherland said. "It will have a green tinge tomorrow but it's not the incredible hulk or the green monster anymore.
"The spin will get the bounce there and there will be enough there for the quicks."
That test last year, or more accurately in December 2010, was a crushing victory for Australia in the Ashes series that was built on the back of some superb pace bowling from Mitchell Johnson and Ryan Harris.
Johnson has since been lost to injury but Harris returns to a pace bowling unit also features Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus, which excelled in the first two tests in Melbourne and Sydney.
'PLAY WITH FREEDOM'
Harris replaces 21-year-old James Pattinson, who will miss the last two tests because of injury, with Mitchell Starc the fourth pace option if the selectors decide to go without finger spinner Nathan Lyon.
"We've lost James but we get Ryan Harris back and he's as good a fast bowler as I've played with throughout my career," said Clarke. "I'm really confident our attack, whether we go with three pace bowlers or four, can do a really good job.
"I think these conditions are obviously going to suit fast bowling, especially on day one, and the new ball is going to be important throughout this test match."
While Australia's bowlers have been in fine form, and the middle order batsmen helped themselves to runs in Sydney, the inexperienced top order of David Warner, Ed Cowan and Shaun Marsh were disappointing.
Clarke conceded they would want more runs but said all three had tasted success in their short test careers and he was confident they would produce in Perth.
"I'm just really keen to see them go out and play with freedom (and) I'm backing all three of them to have a good test match," he said.
As for his own form, Clarke said his record-breaking innings in Sydney had not changed his own approach to the test match.
"If I go out and get a pair in this test match, I'm talking about my place in the team again," he said.
"It's a complete different wicket, complete different conditions and I'm on zero when I walk out to bat."
Perth: Australia captain Michael Clarke is wrestling with his instincts as he contemplates the selection of four pace bowlers and putting India in to bat in the third test on what is expected to be a lively wicket at the WACA track.