'Whatever 11 players are selected, it's about doing the job'
A downcast nation will expect changes to the Australia team after they were routed by England in the second Ashes Test but selectors look to have few real options at their disposal.
Captain Ricky Ponting and chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch were given plenty of time to discuss manpower changes for the third Test after England wrapped up victory by an innings and 71 runs to take a 1-0 series lead on Tuesday.
"I'm sure there will be some good questions between Andrew and myself," Ponting said.
"Whatever 11 players are selected, it's about doing the job for Australia. This week we haven't done that," he added.
Image: Ricky Ponting
Aus were "out-batted, out-bowled and out-fielded"
Ponting conceded Australia had been "out-batted, out-bowled and out-fielded" in Adelaide, but taking just 16 wickets at a cost of 1,397 runs over the first two Tests pointed clearly to the department that was of gravest concern.
Having juggled their bowling options for the first two Tests, though, their choices for Perth look like being to keep the same players or return, baggy green caps in hand, to three proven Test performers who have already been discarded.
Spinner Nathan Hauritz was cut from the squad for the first Test in favour of left-armer Xavier Doherty, a test debutant with a first class average touching 50. Doherty took 3-306 in his first two Tests.
Fast bowlers Mitchell Johnson and Ben Hilfenhaus paid the price for Australia's poor return in England's second innings in Brisbane and were replaced by Ryan Harris and Doug Bollinger for Adelaide.
Harris (2-84) was the most impressive of the Australian bowlers in Adelaide but Bollinger discovered that desire and commitment were not enough as he was hammered for (1-130) and "hit the wall," in Ponting's words.
Image: Ricky Ponting shakes hands with Kevin Pietersen
Hughes set to replace Katich
The only constant in the fast-bowling unit was Peter Siddle, who took six wickets and a hat-trick at the Gabba but went wicket-less for 121 runs in Adelaide.
Hilfenhaus can be relied upon to return and bowl dependable line and length but Hauritz and Johnson are more complex characters and there is no telling how being dropped will have effected their confidence.
The other spinner option is 21-year-old all-rounder Steve Smith, but he is also unproven at Test match level, although he would strengthen Australia's lower middle order batting.
The batting line-up will in any case have to be changed after opener Simon Katich was almost certainly ruled out for the rest of the series by an Achilles injury.
Phil Hughes is most likely to replace him despite being bullied out of test cricket by the England bowlers in last years Ashes series.
Ponting said Hughes was "the first cab on the rank" and "would be ready to go in Perth."
Image: Phil Hughes
Katich's injury could save North
Katich's injury could save Marcus North's place in the side despite his making just 49 runs in three innings in the series so far, although the calls for free-scoring Usman Khawaja to finally get his chance on the Test stage are gathering momentum.
"Unfortunately, lack of consistency has been the one thing that (has) plagued him through his first class career," Ponting said of North.
"I still believe he has great value to the team," Ponting added.
The third test in Perth begins on December 16.
Image: Marcus North