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Aussies make two changes for SA

Glenn Maxwell and Mitchell Starc to return for crucial clash with the Proteas in Barbados

Captain Steve Smith hopes the "wake-up call" of being dropped will bring the best out of allrounder Glenn Maxwell when he returns to Australia's side for the clash against South Africa on Monday morning (AEST).

Maxwell, named Australia's ODI Player of the Year in January, was left out of their two tri-series matches in St Kitts last week after posting scores of 0 and 3 in the opening two games in Guyana, bringing to five the number of one-day internationals in a row in which he's been dismissed for single figures.

Quick single: Smith challenges South Africa to hit Aussies with spin

Smith, who also confirmed Mitchell Starc would return for the crucial showdown with the Proteas, said Maxwell's axing was a reality check.

WATCH: "Umm... how many is that?"

"He sat out the last couple and hopefully that's been a bit of a wake-up call for him," Smith said before he shook off any concerns about a slight quad strain with a lengthy net session at Kensington Oval in Barbados.

"We know what we want from him, it's a bit more consistency and that's what the selectors have told him. He gets an opportunity and hopefully he'll make the most of that.

"I had a word to him the other day just about clearing his mind and going out there and just playing good cricket shots. I think we've seen when Maxi is at his best he's actually not thinking too much, so it was just reinforcing those messages.

"I watched him bat pretty closely in the nets yesterday (Saturday AEST) and I thought he played particularly well, especially against the fast bowlers. So hopefully he’s continuing to learn and hopefully he'll get amongst the runs in the next couple of games."

Quick single: Caged lion Starc ready to pounce

Maxwell comes into a 12-man squad in place of youngster Travis Head, while Starc replaces Nathan Coulter-Nile.

WATCHL Mitch Starc making net gains in Barbados

The Victorian's absence from the past two games was the first time he's been dropped since November 2014 and since then he’s established himself as a key player in Australia's middle order.

From the time he returned to the side until the end of last summer's series against India, Maxwell averaged 43 with the bat and also played an important role with bat and ball in Australia's World Cup triumph last year, including his maiden international century.

Smith said the 27-year-old took some time to adjust to the news that he was out of the side.

"I think he was pretty disappointed initially," the skipper said. "It took him a while to get used to the idea he wasn't playing.

"But I think the last week or last couple of days he's turned his head around, he's worked very hard on his game in the nets and done a few things in the gym to try to improve as a cricketer.

"I guess that's what it's about, trying to do everything you can to get back into the team.

"(It's) obviously disappointing for Travis, he didn't get a great opportunity the other day. He's disappointed to miss out, as he should be.

"But we believe this is the best team for tomorrow, the most experienced team and Maxi's going to get another opportunity and hopefully he can make the most of it."

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Smith conceded the right quad problem he suffered against the West Indies in St Kitts last Tuesday means he won't be fully fit for the Proteas game, but dismissed any thought it would rule him out of the match.

WATCH: Aussies put through paces in the field

And he isn't concerned the injury will have any lingering effects, especially with the Qantas Tour of Sri Lanka starting next month.

"It's been a bit sore ... I think it's one of those injuries where I might not be able to go at 100 per cent, but I think I'll be right for the game," he said.

"You want to be as close to 100 per cent as you can be, but that's part of playing international sport, particularly playing cricket for Australia.

"You have to run with it and I think I understand my body a lot better these days and I can manage these little injuries. So hopefully I'll be OK tomorrow.

"Sri Lanka is still a fair way away, it's about five weeks until the first Test match there."

Australia squad v South Africa: Usman Khawaja, Aaron Finch, Steve Smith (c), George Bailey, Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Marsh, Matthew Wade, James Faulkner, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Scott Boland, Adam Zampa (one to be omitted)

Meg Lanning Steve Smith