Perth: Australia coach Mickey Arthur says captain Michael Clarke will likely retain his No. 5 spot in the batting lineup with allrounder Shane Watson most likely to fill in at No. 4 in a reshuffle forced by the retirement of Ricky Ponting. Arthur said Ponting's replacement in the Australian lineup for its next test series against Sri Lanka will probably bat at No. 3, leaving the opening partnership intact and prolific run-scorer Clarke in his preferred spot.
"Without wanting to name names, it will probably be a guy who will come in and bat three and possibly a move for (Watson) at four," Arthur said. "It's just looks right and gives us a bit of stability. Former test opener Phil Hughes and Usman Khawaya are seen as the most likely candidates to take Ponting's place for the Sri Lanka series. "I'm obviously bringing a personal opinion. We've got in our minds who we think the guy is (to replace Ponting)," Arthur said.
"But we still need to discuss that as a selection panel, and then sit down in Hobart next Monday when we arrive there and make a decision on what our preferred batting order is going to be." Arthur said pressure was on the Australian top order — openers Ed Cowan and David Warner, Watson and any newcomer — to perform after the team's resounding 309-run loss to South Africa in the third test at Perth. He said Clarke and No. 6 batsman Mike Hussey were consistently productive, but the other specialist Australian batsmen had to quickly find form.
"We need a lot more consistency, especially from our top-four because we know ... we've got the best batsmen in the world in Clarke and (Hussey)," he said. "We just need one, two, three and four to be giving us a really good platform. Arthur said while the Australian top order was big on promise, it was still short on experience. "They've shown us they've got the goods. You've got to give those guys time to grow and be a little bit more consistent," he said. "We've just got to keep building and make sure we've got a settled unit very clear on what their roles are come those big tests that lie ahead of us."