Australian captain Steve Smith has paid tribute to some bold selections after his team regained the Ashes in Perth.
The home team took an unbeatable 3-0 lead in the series with an innings victory over the English at the WACA Ground, despite rain delays and a damaged pitch on Monday.
Smith said the comprehensive result, which has Australia on track for its third Ashes whitewash in four home series, was vindication for the national selectors for making some imaginative selections.
Wicketkeeper Tim Paine was not even keeping for his state side Tasmania when he was named for the first Test at the Gabba, while the recall of 34-year-old Shaun Marsh raised plenty of eyebrows.
Then batsman Peter Handscomb was dropped for the third Test, with underachieving all-rounder Mitchell Marsh getting a surprise recall.
Paine has responded with polished performances behind the stumps and 130 runs at 43.33, while Shaun Marsh produced a crucial century in the second Test in Adelaide and has 224 runs at 74.66.
Mitchell Marsh took his chance in the third Test, notching his maiden Test century in making 181.
“I thought they were really good selections,” Smith said.
“Painey has been mentioned as the best keeper in the country for a long period of time and the way he has kept has been exceptional.
“The way he has batted has been exceptional as well, we have had some very valuable runs from him at seven.
“Shaun Marsh as well, he’s come in and done a terrific job.
Smith credited his bowling attack’s firepower for providing the difference between the sides, with Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins all capable of bowling considerably quicker than their English counterparts.
He said the success of the trio was reward for extended planning to ensure they were at their prime for the Ashes.
“Here in Australia it certainly makes a difference on the flatter tracks where there isn’t much sideways movement, that extra air speed can make a big difference,” he said.
“We’ve worked really hard to ensure we had these three big quicks were on the park and ready for this series.
“A couple of them skipped the one-day series in India as we knew what was coming up, we were preparing for this series and we wanted the big three on the park to do what they’ve done the last three Test matches.”
Pace bowler Starc battled a bruised heel in Perth, but the captain said he was keen to play in Melbourne.
“I just saw him and he just said ‘I’m playing’,” Smith said.
“Whether he has a choice in the matter I am not sure but he wants to play.”
Australian have named an unchanged side for the Boxing Day Test, starting on December 26 at the MCG.