Australia ring changes for third Test

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The Independent Online

Opener Phil Hughes will replace the injured Simon Katich in one of four changes to Australia's 12-man squad for next week's third Ashes Test in Perth.

Australia, beaten by an innings and 71 runs in Adelaide and therefore 1-0 down with three matches to play, have also recalled fast bowler Mitchell Johnson and called up spinners Steve Smith and Michael Beer.

Beer was the least anticipated of the new selections, although Shane Warne - fancifully touted in some quarters for a return from retirement as Australia struggle in the series - had nominated the Western Australia slow left-armer as a possible replacement for Xavier Doherty.

Warne has turned out to be spot on about a cricketer with just five first-class matches under his belt.

Explaining the reasons behind the squad announced this afternoon, national selection panel chairman Andrew Hilditch said: "Phil (Hughes) is an exciting young batsman, who has already proven his ability to succeed at international level - and he deserves this opportunity to return to the Australian side."

WA batsman Marcus North, fast bowler Doug Bollinger and slow left-armer Xavier Doherty are the three players dropped after Australia's second-Test defeat.

Hilditch added: "This is obviously disappointing for Marcus, who has played some outstanding Test innings for Australia - but it was felt to be the right time to bring the exciting prospect Steve Smith into the Test team.

"Steve has already had success at international level and will also add to the bowling depth, with his leg-spin bowling and dynamic fielding."

Beer appears to have an obvious chance of a Test debut, on his adopted home ground, having moved from club cricket in Victoria for a shot at the professional game this year.

"Michael is a left-arm orthodox spinner, who has been very impressive at domestic level this year," added Hilditch.

"He took wickets against England in the tour match earlier this summer, and we expect he will bowl very well against the English on his home ground."

Beer finished with match figures of five for 207 against England, in the tourists' first fixture of the winter last month.

Within moments of today's squad announcement, Hughes followed a first-innings four in New South Wales' Sheffield Shield match against South Australia in Sydney with a duck at his second attempt.

The left-hander did make 81 three weeks ago against England in Hobart for Australia A, however.

Hilditch added: "Doug Bollinger has been omitted from the squad. Both Mitchell Johnson and Ben Hilfenhaus did not play in Adelaide but will be strongly considered for selection in the Perth Test match, where conditions will suit them.

"Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle were the pick of our quicks at Adelaide Oval, and these four make up the pace attack for the Perth Test match.

"The squad is a very exciting one with a blend of talented young players and experienced international cricketers.

"We are confident it will play an aggressive brand of cricket as we try to change the momentum of the Test series in this critical match."

Australia squad for third Ashes Test in Perth: R Ponting (capt), M Clarke, M Beer, B Haddin (wkt), R Harris, P Hughes, B Hilfenhaus, M Hussey, M Johnson, P Siddle, S Smith, S Watson.