Australia keep New Zealand guessing with spin options

Australia have called up leg-spinner Mitchell Swepson who could bowl in tandem with Nathan Lyon, depending on a last-minute pitch inspection on Friday.

Australia skipper Tim Paine during a nets session.   -  GETTY IMAGES

Australia kept New Zealand guessing on Thursday as they weighed up using a five-pronged bowling attack in the final Test at Sydney.

The home team, who have comfortably won the first two Tests of the three-match series, have called up leg-spinner Mitchell Swepson who could bowl in tandem with Nathan Lyon, depending on a last-minute pitch inspection on Friday.

“We’re just weighing up whether we play the second spinner and if we did, how we would do that,” captain Tim Paine told reporters ahead of the game, where both teams will wear black armbands for the victims of Australia’s raging bushfires.

“As JL (coach Justin Langer) touched on yesterday, I think at the moment it would be likely that we would go unchanged but there’s still a possibility, if we see that wicket tomorrow morning, that we could play another spinner.”

If they go with a second spinner, middle-order batsman Matthew Wade is the likely fall guy, after number six Travis Head hit a century in the Boxing Day Test at Melbourne.

An unchanged side would retain Lyon alongside pace spearheads Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and James Pattinson, who wreaked havoc with the New Zealand batsmen in their 247-run win in Melbourne.

Paine said the team was versatile enough to cope whether they dropped a batsman or a fast bowler.

“Luckily we could probably do both if we had to,” he said.

“We’ve got some guys around our squad that could provide quite a bit of flexibility and even with someone like James Pattinson can really lengthen our batting anyway.” Shane Warne, who has championed Swepson, said in a column for the Sydney Daily Telegraph Thursday that he would like to see him play in Sydney.

“I watched him during the Test in Melbourne (training) and he’s bowling beautifully,” he said.

“I like his weapons. He’s got a good wrong-un, a good leg-break, some good plans and he understands his game so well.” Australia have been unbeatable this season, winning all four Tests at home -- two each against Pakistan and New Zealand -- after retaining the Ashes in England.

Paine has pointed to teamwork as a crucial factor, with players stepping up when others are having an off day.

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