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August 13, 2009

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Clark not guaranteed Ashes spot in decider

PACEMAN Stuart Clark is not guaranteed a place in Australia's team for the fifth and deciding Ashes test against England despite his strong performance at Headingley, chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch said yesterday.

Clark was overlooked for the first three tests but played a prominent role when he was recalled for last week's fourth match.

England was handed an embarrassing innings defeat as Australia levelled the series at 1-1.

Australia's selectors were widely criticized for not picking Clark earlier but Hilditch said they were right to choose Mitchell Johnson, Ben Hilfenhaus and Peter Siddle ahead of him.

"Although they've probably taken a bit of time to hit their straps, the reality is all three are now the leading wicket-takers in the Ashes, so I think all those selections have been absolutely spot-on," Hilditch told reporters in Australia.

"Stuart Clark got the nod and he did a good job but the other three bowled exceptionally well as well and took more wickets.

"So I think we go into the final test with those three fast bowlers as our leading bowlers at the moment."

With Johnson, Hilfenhaus and Siddle seemingly assured of their places for the last test at The Oval, the biggest issue facing Australia's selectors is whether to stick with Clark or recall spinner Nathan Hauritz.

Fast bowler Brett Lee will also be available after recovering from injury but The Oval's reputation as a wicket that suits spin bowlers could give Hauritz the advantage.

"I've got to say from a selection point of view I've been thrilled with the Ashes, I think it's gone particularly well," Hilditch said.

"The Oval will be a tough test, we're going to have tough selections."


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