CRICKET: Captain Steve Smith says Hilton Cartwright's bowling had improved after naming the Western Australia all-rounder in the final Test against Pakistan at the SCG today.
The Zimbabwean-born 24-year-old will become the 450th player to wear the baggy green cap for Australia after replacing Nic Maddinson in the team.
Australia will go with two spinners in Sydney, with Jackson Bird the unlucky man to make way for slow left-arm bowler Steve O'Keefe, the only other change to the team that won the Boxing Day Test so dramatically to take an unbeatable 2-0 lead in the three-match series.
Smith said Cartwright was definitely a better bowler than the one he faced in the Sheffield Shield last summer.
"I think he's improved a lot over the last year or so,” Smith said.
"I remember facing him a little while ago and I think since then he's probably gained 10kph and got a lot more consistent with his areas.
"I guess how much we'll use him will depend on how the game goes.”
The skipper said two playing spinners necessitated a seam-bowling all-rounder.
He wasn't sure just how much bowling Cartwright would do, but said he was ready to take his chance
"(Cartwright is an) extra bowling option to go with the two quicks and the two spinners,” Smith said yesterday.
"It just adds a little bit to the bowling stocks, and he deserves an opportunity to play at No.6.
"Greg (Chappell) told him just over at the nets probably half an hour ago.
"I bumped into him in the change room just now and he seemed pretty excited, a big grin on his face, as you should when you're about to debut for your country.
"It's a dream come true for everyone that gets the opportunity and hopefully he can take his opportunity with both hands.”
O'Keefe, who has just played three Big Bash games since injuring a calf in November, was chosen ahead of Ashton Agar to fill the second spinner's role alongside Nathan Lyon.
The skipper said Bird was unlucky not to keep his place after his performance at the MCG.
"I thought he bowled particularly well in Melbourne but, look, conditions sometimes change the team,” Smith said.
"So, yeah, we've gone with two spinners on this occasion and it's unlucky for Jackson.
"I thought he did bowl very well last week and he continues to improve.”
O'Keefe has played three Tests, including the Sydney Test against the West Indies last summer, and partnered Lyon in the first Test in Sri Lanka this winter before injury ruled him out for the remainder of the series.
Australia XI: David Warner, Matthew Renshaw, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith (c), Peter Handscomb, Hilton Cartwright, Matthew Wade (wk), Mitchell Starc, Steve O'Keefe, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon