Perth: Captain Michael Clarke says Australia will use Ricky Ponting's farewell Test as extra motivation in the series decider against South Africa, with the number one world ranking also at stake.
South Africa will retain top spot with a win or draw after the first two games in the three-Test series ended in draws while the home team need a victory to move back to the number one spot. Both Clarke and Ponting, who announced his Test retirement on Thursday, described the match as a winner-take-all "grand final" for the top spot.
But the Australians have been rocked by the loss of fast bowling duo Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus, both ruled out due to fatigue from the second Test in Adelaide, which finished in a tense draw on Monday.
They will also be without fellow quick James Pattinson, who injured his side in Adelaide. Their absence means at least one of uncapped fast bowling pair Josh Hazlewood and John Hastings will make their Test debut and both could play if the home team elects to go in without a specialist spinner and drops Nathan Lyon.
The final decision will be made on the morning of the match. Left-armer Mitchell Starc, 12th man for the first two Tests, and pacer Mitchell Johnson, who boasts 30 wickets in four Perth Tests, will both come into the side.
Clarke, who was emotional when discussing Ponting's announcement, said the Australians were determined to send the veteran out on a high by returning to the pinnacle of Test cricket.
"It will only give us more inspiration, there is no doubt about that," he said of Ponting's retirement.
"It is a grand final for us. It is why you play the game, to play this final Test match against the number one team in the world and know that if you win you will be the number one team in the world."
On the other hand, South Africa skipper Graeme Smith will be hoping that paceman Vernon Philander is fit to rejoin his strike bowling unit after a lower back injury ruled him out of the second Test. After a sensational introduction to Test cricket, Philander failed to take a wicket for the first time in the drawn series-opener in Brisbane.
His return would, however, allow South Africa to select a four-pronged pace attack with Philander, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Rory Kleinveldt all looking to fire on what is expected to be a lively track. Jacques Kallis might not be able to back up the much-vaunted, but so far disappointing, bowling attack after injuring his hamstring in Adelaide but the all-rounder might retain his place in the side as a batsman.
Australia: 1 Michael Clarke (captain), 2 Shane Watson, 3 David Warner, 4 Ed Cowan, 5 Ricky Ponting, 6 Mike Hussey, 7 Matthew Wade, 8 Nathan Lyon, 9 Mitchell Starc, 10 Josh Hastings, 11 Josh Hazlewood, 12 Mitchell Johnson.
South Africa: 1 Graeme Smith, 2 Alviro Petersen, 3 Hashim Amla, 4 Jacques Kallis, 5 Jacques Rudolf, 6 AB de Villiers, 7 Faf du Plessis, 8 Dale Steyn, 9 Rory Kleinveldt, 10 Morne Morkel, 11 Imran Tahir/Vernon Philander