Conditions could decide make-up of final team

Tasmanians James Faulkner and George Bailey ahead of today's fifth Ashes Test.  Picture: Getty Images.

SEAMING conditions at the SCG have shortened the odds that fifth-Test specialist James Faulkner could be selected for Australia's whitewash attempt against England starting today. 

Selectors may still opt to give the same XI from the first Test at the Gabba the chance to see the series out in Sydney, something which no Australian side has managed to achieve in a five-match campaign. 

Captain Michael Clarke admits going in with an unchanged line-up is the ``romantic'' scenario, however, he stressed conditions will have the final say. 

With Shane Watson and Ryan Harris bowling yesterday, the only possible alteration would be Faulkner to replace under-pressure middle-order batsman George Bailey. 

Faulkner could benefit from a green-tinged wicket, with SCG curator Tom Parker expecting good carry and bounce and admitting Clarke could once again choose to bowl first. 

Bailey has struggled in his debut Test series, averaging 27.20 with just one half-century. 

By contrast, fellow Tasmanian Faulkner is a bowling all-rounder with a terrific first class bowling average of 142 wickets at 23 and keeper Brad Haddin is batting well enough to move up to No. 6. 

Clarke said a place in history would not alter coach Darren Lehmann's edict to pick the best XI for every match. 

``I think (the same XI) would be extremely romantic,'' Clarke said yesterday. 

``But I think you've got to pick the best 11 players to help you have success in the conditions you're playing. 

``If conditions turn out to be similar to what they have been in the past four Test matches then I think selectors will go that way.'' 

Parker said after being cut and rolled, the wicket will look less green this morning and he expects it to play like a regular SCG surface. 

``If it's overcast and the forecast is for some possible light showers . . . you may well bowl first,'' he said. 

``Traditionally it's going to turn and become a more difficult wicket to bat on after day three.'' 

All-rounder Faulkner has featured in the squad for every Test this summer, but is yet to add to the impressive debut he made in the dead-rubber final match of the last Ashes series at The Oval. 

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