Australia to stick with three quicks

Spinner Stephen O'Keefe released for Shield cricket as Adelaide Oval produces green deck

Left-arm spinner Stephen O'Keefe has been released from Australia's Test squad, with Steve Smith confirming he will take the tried and tested combination of three quicks and a spinner into the final match of this Trans-Tasman series.

And Brendon McCullum indicated changes would be made to the New Zealand XI for the third Test at the Adelaide Oval, but it's becoming increasingly unlikely any reshuffle will involve Trent Boult.

Having done so on the eve of the first two Tests, Smith today declined to announce his XI for the third Test, beginning at 2pm Friday at the Adelaide Oval (local time). However, O'Keefe's exit to play Sheffield Shield with New South Wales means a recall for either Peter Siddle or James Pattinson.

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Alternatively, both Victorian quicks could play if the risk regarding Josh Hazlewood's bowling loads is deemed too great, though Smith said the incumbent paceman had enjoyed a good period of recovery with 10 days between the second and third Tests.

"He's bowled beautifully in the nets the last couple of days as well," the captain said of Hazlewood. "It's nice to have some fresh bowlers in – obviously Peter Siddle and James Pattinson haven't played as much cricket as Josh has recently – so it's nice to have some fresh faces in and ready to go, so we'll wait and see how we go.

"The guys have had a good bowl over the last couple of days, and Rodney (Marsh, selector) was going to come down and have a look at this wicket again today, and we're going to decide from there.

"There's probably a little bit more grass (on it) than I anticipated, so that probably swayed our decision (to release O'Keefe)."

The absence of the retired Mitchell Johnson means Mitchell Starc is the only paceman guaranteed his starting place, and Smith reiterated now was the time for the latter to take charge as Australia's pace spearhead.

"Losing someone of the quality of Mitchell Johnson is always tough for a team, but I think Mitchell Starc is going to step up and fill that role.

"We saw last week the way he bowled was extremely impressive – to bowl 37 overs above 145kph consistently, that's pretty impressive. Hopefully we can see a lot more of that."

Western Australian batsman Shaun Marsh has been confirmed to bat at No.5, where he played three Tests against India last summer, scoring 254 runs at 42.33.

Having scored a stunning century on Test debut in Sri Lanka in 2011, Marsh has had numerous opportunities in the Baggy Green, playing 15 matches across four years since without being able to cement his place in the side.

"He has another opportunity to play for Australia and at number five he's done a terrific job, and I think that's where he is best suited," Smith said. "He did that last summer here against India and he played beautifully.

"So he's got an opportunity to come in and do well and hopefully he can take it with both hands."

Boult will train with the Black Caps again tonight – less than 24 hours out from the historic day-night fixture – and McCullum was waiting to see how the star left-arm quick got through that final session before announcing his side for the must-win clash against Australia.

That seems a precautionary measure more than anything after Black Caps coach Mike Hesson last night said Boult got through a bowling workout "fine", with the 26-year-old expected to take his place opening the bowling alongside Tim Southee.

"Trent bowled yesterday in the nets," the skipper said. "I thought he bowled with good pace as well. Certainly saw a couple of bouncers in there as well, just like all the other bowlers did last night."

"If he's pulled up well today then we'll obviously see how he goes tonight and then we'll be able to name a team later on."

McCullum said the unique conditions presented by the occasion – namely the potential swing of the pink ball, a grassier surface designed to best protect that ball, and the fact the final session will be played under lights – had weighed on the Black Caps selections. 

"We've got some considerations in terms of the wicket, and just a couple of slightly different quirks with the game obviously being played a bit later (than normal)."

"I wouldn't think we'd name an unchanged XI. I think there'll probably be some changes. It's just a matter of trying to work out what the best balance is heading into this Test match."

The issue of balance has led to speculation that right-arm quick Matt Henry could make way for uncapped spinning allrounder Mitchell Santner.

Santner took four wickets against a Western Australian XI in New Zealand's pink ball warm-up last weekend, however the 23-year-old's strength is his batting and he is viewed largely as a part-time option with the ball, as his record of 25 wickets at 57 in 22 first-class matches attests.

If included, he would slot in at No.7 in the batting order, allowing Doug Bracewell and Mark Craig to shuffle back down the order.

The alternative for the Black Caps is to select left-armer Neil Wagner, who took five wickets in that same warm-up match and impressed by swinging the pink ball under lights.

Regardless of the make-up of his bowling attack, McCullum feels his batsmen turned a corner in Perth and are ready to capitalise on their increased familiarity with Australian conditions in Adelaide.

"The way Ross and Kane played in that last Test match was outstanding," he said. "Martin Guptill batted beautifully in that warm-up game, and he played with a slightly more aggressive tempo – a tempo which is probably more akin to his one-day game, so I think he looks freer at the crease as well.

"Tom Latham has impressed everyone with his poise, composure and technique. He feels like he's not far away from a big score as well.

"So overall the batters tend to get better as we get deeper into a season, which is kind of scary for guys like Kane (Williamson) and Ross (Taylor), but I think overall our guys go in with probably a little bit more confidence than when we started the tour."