Sydney Test: Catch-22, playing XI

Australia skipper Michael Clarke came through a fitness test on Tuesday, indicating he will play in this week's third Test against Sri Lanka and resolve at least one of the hosts' selection problems for the dead rubber match.

With an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series, Australia could have been forgiven for going into the match, which starts at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Thursday, riding on the crest of a wave of optimism for the future.

The hammer blow of Michael Hussey's retirement announcement coming so quickly after that of Ricky Ponting, though, has left them contemplating their batting resources with a test series in India and back-to-back Ashes encounters to come this year.

Sri Lanka, despite being humbled by an innings and 201 runs inside three days in the second test in Melbourne, can still hold onto the hope of claiming a first Test victory in Australia on what should be the most spin-friendly of the three tracks.

Hussey announced last week that the Sydney test would be his 79th and last, and the 37-year-old's chances of going out with a bang are high if statistics are anything to go by.

"Mr Cricket", as he is affectionately nicknamed, has averaged 117.75 runs in his seven previous Tests against Sri Lanka, 100 in a similar number of matches at the SCG and has scored centuries in three of his last five tests.

Clarke doubtful

Australia might need those runs if Clarke's hamstring is not risked and he joins all rounder Shane Watson in the treatment room, leaving a batting order as low on experience as Sri Lanka's is rich in it.

Usman Khawaja remains on standby for Clarke and wicketkeeper Matthew Wade admitted there would be a lot more expectation on those players who have played fewer than 20 tests, not least the uncapped Glenn Maxwell.

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