Australia squad - fourth Ashes Test
Ricky Ponting (captain)
Ponting's captaincy came in for renewed criticism during the recent 2-0 series defeat in India and a third Ashes loss would almost certainly be terminal to his leadership. However, he was Australia's best batsman in India and England will be wary of a player who has excelled against them in the past and has scored more than 12,000 Test runs.
An aggressive opener with a somewhat unorthodox style, Hughes enjoyed a rapid rise to prominence in 2009, scoring 415 runs in his first three Test appearances before enhancing his reputation with a run-laden stint at Middlesex. The 22-year-old struggled to maintain his form in that summer’s Ashes series and was dropped after two matches, but he remains one of the most promising youngsters in Australian cricket.
Australia's current player of the year, Watson has finally shaken off his persistent injury problems to establish himself as a key member of the Australia side. That he has done so as an opening batsman is unexpected but also testament to his willingness to adapt. He has averaged around 50 since moving to the top of the order, while his seam bowling offers depth to the attack.
The left-hander averaged just 25.45 in seven Tests prior to this series but appears to have returned to his best form at the perfect time, scoring 517 runs in the first three Tests. His appetite for runs - not to mention the big occasion - remains as voracious as ever as he enters the closing years of his career.
Michael Clarke (vice-captain)
Australia's most successful batsman during the 2009 Ashes defeat in England, Clarke is one of the most prized wickets again - especially given his excellent record on home soil: he averages 68.44 in his last seven series. His bowling - often neglected - could also prove handy given Kevin Pietersen's troubles against left-arm spin, although there are ongoing concerns over Clarke's troublesome back.
Smith is a leg-spinning all-rounder who had been tipped for great things long before he made his international debut in February. His promise with the ball has prompted inevitable comparisons with the great Shane Warne, yet it is Smith’s batting that is probably his strongest suit at this early stage in his career and he currently averages 44 in first-class cricket.
Brad Haddin (wicketkeeper)
Prior to this series, Haddin had not played a Test since March due to an elbow problem and, in his absence, Tim Paine's impressive performances cast a certain amount of doubt on his place in the team. However, he is a reliable scorer of runs at number seven and, barring another injury setback, he is certain to be Australia’s first-choice keeper throughout the Ashes.
A steady seamer capable of maintaining a disciplined line and length, Hilfenhaus was the most consistent bowler during the 2009 Ashes when he took 22 wickets in just his second series. However, he was left out of the team following the drawn first Test at the Gabba but was recalled at Perth where he put in a reliable display.
The left-armer has admitted he has a point to prove after a hugely disappointing tour of England last summer, when his lack of discipline cost Ricky Ponting control at key times. It is his ability, however, to combine the erratic with the unplayable that makes him a strike bowler to be feared, especially on home soil. Johnson was also omitted for the second Test in Adelaide but returned in style at the WACA with nine wickets.
Harris is a powerfully-built fast bowler, who delivers the ball quicker than his approach may suggest. He recovered from knee surgery in 2009 to establish himself as a key member of Australia's ODI side, although further injuries have prevented him from gaining a regular Test berth as yet.
Left-arm spinner Beer was a surprise inclusion in Australia’s third Test squad, having played just seven first-class matches in his career to date. The 26-year-old moved from Victoria to Western Australia during the 2010 off season in search of first-team cricket and the move appears to have paid dividends. He claimed match figures of 5-207 for WA in England’s opening tour match.
After making a promising start to his Test career with 60 wickets in 17 matches, Siddle was sidelined by a back injury in January and only returned in last month’s first Test at Brisbane. His aggressive hit-the-pitch style brought immediate reward at the Gabba as he claimed a first-innings hat-trick, although he has struggled to build on that sensational performance.
The Pakistan-born batsman is relatively raw but was considered worthy of a place in the squad for the neutral Test series against Pakistan in the summer. Previously uncapped at senior level, his first-class average of 52.82 makes him a talented reserve at least.
Usman Khawaja was added to the squad as cover for Ricky Ponting, who fractured the little finger on his left hand during the third Test in Perth.