Ashes 2013: James Faulkner to make Australia Test bow

By Sam SheringhamBBC Sport at The Oval
James Faulkner

Australia all-rounder James Faulkner will make his Test debut in the final Ashes match against England at The Oval, starting on Wednesday.

Faulkner, 23, will replace batsman Usman Khawaja, while left-arm paceman Mitchell Starc is recalled at the expense of Jackson Bird.

England have already won the Ashes, holding an unassailable 3-0 lead going into the final Test of the series.

Australia have a lot to gain - Clarke

"James is a tough competitor," said Australia captain Michael Clarke.

"He is an all-rounder. He provides that package for us which the selectors believe will play a big part in helping us take 20 wickets and score the runs we need to win this Test match."

Shane Watson will bat at number three, with wicketkeeper Brad Haddin moving up one place to six and Faulkner, who has played eight one-day internationals and three Twenty20s, coming in at seven.

Faulkner, a key member of Tasmania's Sheffield Shield-winning side last season, has taken 127 first-class wickets at an average of 22.87 but has not scored a hundred in any form of senior cricket.

He has played in all four of Australia's tour matches, only getting out once in five innings and striking eight times with the ball.

"Like a lot of our young players he's a wonderful young talent but I think he has the toughness to mix it with any opposition in any form of the game and at the highest level," added Clarke.

"He is a fighter, a competitor - he might not look the best all the time but he'll find a way to stay out there and help his partner go on and make a hundred or help the tail through.

"With the ball he's extremely competitive and will find a way to take wickets as he has done so far on this tour and in the shorter forms of the game."

Australia's latest reshuffle means the tourists will have fielded a different batting order in all five Tests.

Watson, who started the series as an opener, was lowered to number six for the fourth Test at Chester-le-Street before moving up to number three in place of the struggling Khawaja.

Back-up wicketkeeper Matthew Wade, who has scored centuries in two of Australia's last four Test victories, continues to be overlooked.

Clarke, meanwhile, said Australia will look to emulate their level of performance in the third Test in Manchester, when they dominated England but were denied victory by rain on the final day.

"We've lost the series but we still have a lot to gain," added Clarke. "We need to show a lot of people that if we play like we did at Manchester we can beat any team in any conditions."

Defeat for Australia would be their eighth loss in nine Tests, the Baggy Greens' worst sequence since 1887 to 1890.

But Clarke, who also presided over a 4-0 whitewash by India in March, insisted he has no plans to quit the role.

"I've thought long and hard about what has occurred in this series as you do when you are not playing as well as you would like to personally and the team is not performing," he added.

"I did the same after the India tour. It's another reason to get out of bed and train harder. I feel my game personally has a lot of improvement left in it.

"I feel I can help the team have success and I see that as a big part of my role in the team, whether I am captain or not.

"It's a tough challenge as a captain when you don't get the results you want, but it inspires you to try to become better as a player and a leader and help you team have more success."

Meanwhile, spinner Ashton Agar, who scored 98 on debut in the first Test but was dropped after the second, will fly back to Australia on Tuesday evening after contracting a "mild viral illness".

Agar, 19, had not been selected in the Australia squads for the Twenty20 and one-day internationals against England that follow the series.

"It has been a long tour and while he has handled the pressure extremely well, we thought it would be a good idea for him to get home as soon possible to have a short break before preparing for the domestic season," said team doctor Peter Brukner.

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