AUSTRALIA earned an extra day off after securing a 177-run victory over the West Indies at the MCG, but that may not be enough to see paceman Josh Hazlewood play a home Test at the SCG.
The in-form but overworked Aussie spearhead is a chance to be rested from the New Year Test at the SCG, starting January 3, after an impressive summer.
Hazlewood went wicketless in the second Test, although he did have Darren Bravo caught at slip in the second innings, only to see him recalled after replays confirmed a no-ball.
With the Frank Worrell Trophy already secured, selectors will be tempted to rest the New South Welshman and play two fast bowlers, two spinners and all-rounder Mitch Marsh on the spin-friendly SCG.
Marsh drew high praise from skipper Steve Smith after taking 4-61 yesterday, while Pattinson finished with six wickets for the match, and also had Carlos Brathwaite out twice on no-balls in the West Indies' first innings.
If Hazlewood is rested, selectors will most likely bring in NSW spinner Steve O'Keefe who was called into the squad for the historic day/night Test in Adelaide before being left out of the XI that took the field.
He would partner fellow spinner Nathan Lyon, named man of the match in Melbourne after finishing with the figures of 7-151.
Apart from Hazlewood, the other question mark is over seamer Peter Siddle who had to go off for treatment on his ankle yesterday, and managed 1-35 from just nine overs.
If he is ruled out, selectors would have a golden opportunity to give fellow Victorian fast bowler Scott Boland, part of the squad for the Boxing Day Test, his debut.
Australia's attack certainly had to work harder in Melbourne than it did in Hobart after the West Indies showed more resolve with the bat in both innings.
Rajendra Chandrika (37 off 130 balls), Denesh Ramdin (59 off 90) and Jason Holder (68 off 86) led their team's resistance on a batting friendly day-four pitch.
Chasing an improbably 460 for victory, their efforts looked like taking the match the full distance despite the umpires extending the playing time to try to secure a result.
And if not for a dramatic last hour, during which the tourists finally cracked, losing 5-32 in the space of 10 overs, they would have sent the game into the uncharted territory of a fifth day, something all the Australian players were desperate to prevent.
- APN SPORTS BUREAU.
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