As far as I can see there are only two spots where changes are likely, and the overnight rumours suggest a Khawaja for Cowan swap is unlikely. If it doesn’t happen, either Cowan does enough to cement a spot this time or he doesn’t.
His spot, however, didn’t necessarily have to be at Three, which is where the Watto conundrum kicks in. Maybe it doesn’t quite constitute whiteanting, may or may not be a cancer on the side, and almost certainly constitutes the actions of a man who’s used to getting what he wants the decisions about where Watson bats and how much he bowls have been heavily influenced by the man and his actions.
Those decisions have, however, been made, the judge’s decision is in, no correspondence will be entered into and the choice is down to Cowan or Khawaja at Three.
The other question’s a bit more tricky, since it involves the composition of the bowling group. Based on Trent Bridge you’d have to say Agar holds his place, batting Eight and doing his share of the bowling. Siddle and Pattinson look safe (barring injury) so the final spot comes down to whether Starc stays and, if he doesn’t, who replaces him.
A bowling Watson would open up a chance for Lyon to return if it looks like the track will turn, but I’m assuming Watson’s role with the ball will constitute cameos rather than donkey work, so it’s either Bird, Faulkner or Harris (as always I try to keep these things alphabetical).
There’s a case for each of the three.
Bird, as our prospective new McGrath, would be an obvious candidate for the work horse role behind Pattinson and attack leader Siddle.
Faulkner can bat, and would be a left arm for left arm replacement, but is probably the least likely of the three prospects with the ball. Of course, having said that, name him in the side and he’ll more than likely deliver.
Harris, who is no good thing to hold down a spot for four games, but will work his guts out while he’s there.
In the end, not having seen any of the three in action on the tour I’m half inclined to go for Harris, but the question mark over the longevity means I’m more inclined to play it safe and opt for Bird.
Who knows? Typing this at ten-thirty-nine on a post-State of Origin morning, I’m more inclined to adopt a wait and see approach, Pressed to make a call. I’d go Khawaja for Cowan and Bird for Starc, but we’ll see...
This is the must win game, and winning is difficult if you’re a bowler short, which explains my preference for Bird over Harris...