Australia take a 4-0 lead in the Ashes
Chris Rogers scores his maiden ton in Australia as the Aussies smash England by eight wickets in the fourth Test on Sunday.PT1M33S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-301qj 620 349 December 29, 2013
Australian coach Darren Lehmann has indicated that Shane Watson could be left out of the team for the fifth Test in Sydney this week if he is not fit to bowl, while fast bowler Ryan Harris is also a doubtful starter for the series finale despite being determined to be part of a potential Ashes whitewash.
Australia enter the Sydney Test, starting on Friday, with the advantage of an extra day of rest after their latest crushing defeat of England was wrapped up 45 minutes before tea on the fourth day in Melbourne, establishing a 4-0 series lead.
They will press for a repeat of the 5-0 destruction of England in 2006-07 but after fielding the same line-up for all four Tests this summer there may be forced personnel changes due to the wear and tear of the past seven weeks.
Wonky knee: Ryan Harris is a match by match proposition. Photo: Pat Scala
All-rounder Watson did not look troubled on Sunday by a groin problem as he steered Australia to victory with an unbeaten 83. However, after managing only four tentative overs with the ball during England's second innings at the MCG, the 32-year-old could be shifted out of the XI if he is only able to bat, with James Faulkner the replacement.
Another option Australia have would be to bring in Faulkner in place of George Bailey instead. But the loss of Watson would leave Australia needing to fill a vacancy at No.3, meaning a candidate such as Tasmania's Alex Doolan could also come into the equation.
''We could do a lot of things next week,'' Lehmann said. ''What I will say is he [Watson] batted very well today and got us across the line so that was pleasing.
Injury-prone: Shane Watson left the MCG with a groin injury but returned to bat and bowl. Photo: Getty Images
''I think Shane would admit he has been a little bit disappointed with his output at No.3 but at the end of the day an all-rounder has to bowl. We will have to have a look at
the Sydney wicket and assess all those situations and assess how he's going. If he's not right to do both we'll have to have a look at that. That's a selection issue we will come to in the next couple of days.
''I personally like five bowlers in the side. It's very hard for three quicks and a spinner to get the wickets you need each and every day unless you've got Shane Warne in your side who was a bowler-and-a-half. I think you need that workload with a fifth bowler.''
Australia: Ashes Victory
Chris Rogers celebrates his century. Photo: Pat Scala
The demands of this summer looked to be taking its toll on the 34-year-old Harris by day three of the Boxing Day Test. He has continually nursed a long-running knee complaint to star in the annihilation of England, and also has a foot issue that the team's medical staff are trying to manage.
The broad-chested fast bowler is adamant he wants to feature at the SCG, where Australia will be presented with the crystal Ashes trophy.
''Try and stop me from playing,'' Harris said. ''I want to be in there. I want to be playing all five. I feel good. I feel fresh. I didn't bowl a lot [on Saturday] and I only bowled 34 overs for the game, which is not a lot as well.
''I will look after myself tonight. I will wait for the celebration in Sydney. I'll enjoy it but I want to make sure I am out on the field in Sydney.''
Lehmann was less certain. The word rotation is not uttered in Australian cricket circles any more but with a three-Test series on the horizon in South Africa in February, Harris will be treated with care.
''I would say he would be doubtful,'' the coach said. ''An extra day helps. It's a five-day turnaround now so we'll have to wait and see.
''He's a valuable bowler for us so we won't take any risks, but again if he is fit, and he can get through and do a job for his captain he will play.''
Stand-by pacemen Doug Bollinger and Nathan Coulter-Nile are at the front of the queue to replace Harris in Sydney.