Perth: Australia will be heading into the fourth Ashes Test on Boxing Day with renewed confidence after their 267-run win over england in Perth but the win can`t hide the lingering frailties of their top order.
The low-scoring nature of the WACA match, along with the dynamic bowling of Mitchell Johnson, meant the failures of recalled pair Phil Hughes and Steven Smith, and captain and vice-captain Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke, went unpunished.
But the fact remains Australia are likely to take four players into the crucial MCG clash who are badly out of form with the bat.
Hughes made two and 12 in Perth, smith seven and 36, and both batsmen were recalled on the back of unimpressive form the New South Wales.
Ponting has just 83 runs at 16.60 for the series and hasn`t scored a ton in nine Tests, While Clarke has only made it into double figures twice in the Ashes, for 115 runs at 23.
Like his skipper, Clarke has gone nine Tests without a hundred and his last nine Test knocks have produced only 150 runs at 16.66.
Australia have relied heavily on Mike Hussey, who has 517 runs at 103.40 to be the most prolific batsman in the series, along with opener Shane Watson (293 at 58.60) and wicketkeeper-batsman Brad Haddin 9264 at 52.80).
However, Ponting, who also has injury issues heading to Melbourne after fracturing the little finger on his left hand in Perth, dismissed any major concerns over the batting line-up.
"I guess if you look at the cold, hard facts that`s exactly right," he said when asked if some of Australia`s key batsmen were struggling.
"But you also know in any game you play, and any win or loss that you have, that there`s always going to be three or four or five of your guys that don`t have any impact on a game.”
"That`s just the way cricket`s always been.”
"It`s about when an opportunity comes around for certain players to stand up and get the job done that they do it."
England captain Andrew Strauss conceded his side may have to reconsider their bowling plans for Hussey, since their attempts to unsettle him with short-pitched bowling has brought few rewards.
"He`s obviously played exceptionally well," he said
"We may have to change our plans a little hit. There is no rocket science to cricket, if you bang enough balls in the right places you are going to create chances.”
"What he has been very good at is being patient and waiting for us to drift off line. We certainly have to have a little think about if there is anything different we can do."