Sydney, Nov 22: Lack of form and performances put Australia's star trio on the brink of selection axe but Ricky Ponting (62), Brad Haddin (55) and Mitchell Johnson (40 not out) were on the edge before being useful in Australia's second-innings run chase of 310, a record at the Wanderers in Johannesburg.
Australia won by two-wickets levelling the Test series against South Africa, there'll be strong argument to retain the trio for the first Test against New Zealand starting on December 1.
Facts show that the Aussie trio have not performed well in the last 12 months, Ponting and Haddin were out of form and with very low scores while Jonhson still hasn't taken more than two wickets in a match since last summer's Ashes.
Media hit out hard on Australia for their pathetic loss in the first Test and for being all-out for 47 runs.
But the new selector and captain Michael Clarke showed his support for the trio especially to the seniors Ponting and Haddin.
"I hope they proved themselves once again to you guys (media) and to the people that do doubt them," said Clarke.
"They don't need to prove anything to anybody in that change room and they certainly don't need to prove anything to me."
"Ricky, 39 Test hundreds and the best batting statistics apart from Bradman as an Australian player. If that doesn't prove something, I don't know what does.
Brad Haddin has been under pressure no doubt. He's been a bit disappointed himself with his batting results," Clarke added.
"He could have gone into his shell and batted for his career, but he backed himself and played his way. Not too many guys can do that."
"Hopefully they continue to score runs and perform and stay a big part of this team," he said.
As long as they keep performing, Ponting and Haddin deserve their place - and the former skipper's spot may have been secure for Brisbane anyhow with injury clouds hanging over Shane Watson and Shaun Marsh.
But selectors must be equally mindful of holding back progress.
In the case of Johnson, he starred with the bat, when the reality is he's a fast bowler who needs wickets.
Clarke indicated the left-armer has shown enough ticker to hold his spot.
"Yes, he needs wickets, no doubt, and he's not hiding behind that fact," Clarke said.
"But if he continues to bowl like he bowled in this Test match and he continues to keep the same attitude in regards to trying to get better, he'll keep having success."