Australia v South Africa Tests
Australia make drastic changes for Adelaide Test
Side announced for third Test against South Africa includes four uncapped players, heralding a major shift in Australian cricket
Sam Ferris Sydney
20 November 2016, 11:59 PM AEST
Australia’s selectors have ushered in a new era by axing five players from the side that surrendered the Commonwealth Bank Test Series to South Africa in Hobart.
The uncapped quartet of Matthew Renshaw (Queensland), Peter Handscomb (Victoria), Nic Maddinson (New South Wales) and Chadd Sayers (South Australia) have been included in a 12-man squad for the third Test in Adelaide starting on Thursday, with Bushrangers wicketkeeper Matthew Wade and Tasmania quick Jackson Bird recalled.
It means opener Joe Burns, middle-order batsmen Adam Voges (who was not considered for selection due to concussion) and Callum Ferguson, gloveman Peter Nevill and fast bowler Joe Mennie have all dropped out of the side that lost by an innings and 80 runs in Hobart.
Only six members from the second Test in Hobart have survived the cleanout: captain Steve Smith, deputy David Warner, No.3 Usman Khawaja, new-ball pair Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood, and veteran spinner Nathan Lyon.
Australia's Test squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Jackson Bird, Peter Handscomb, Josh Hazlewood, Usman Khawaja, Nic Maddinson, Nathan Lyon, Matt Renshaw, Chadd Sayers, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade
The biggest overhaul has come to the fragile batting order that lost 10-85 and 8-32 at Blundstone Arena and has been susceptible to seismic collapses since the first Test in Sri Lanka four months ago.
With changes promised by captain, coach and chief executive following the hammering in the Tasmanian capital, each run and wicket in the ongoing Sheffield Shield round was worth its weight in gold.
Renshaw, 20, was the first to hit the jackpot, hitting 108 against the table-topping Redbacks at the Gabba last Thursday before backing it up with a quick-fire half-century in the second innings.
The imposing left-hander, who was born in England, has played just 12 first-class matches with three centuries and a highest-score of 170.
Quick Single: Renshaw's amazing journey to the Baggy Green
Handscomb, 25, struck it rich four days ago too, although he parlayed his 110 at stumps on day one at the SCG into 215, his maiden first-class double century.
Quick Single: Handscomb completes road to the top
The Victorian captained Australia A with aplomb this winter and is a more than capable wicketkeeper should injury strike.
Despite scores of 6 and 33 against Victoria, Maddinson, showed grit and determination in his 116 against Western Australia two weeks ago on a spinning Sydney pitch where Ashton Agar bagged a 10-wicket haul.
Quick Single: Maddinson's journey to the Baggy Green
The 24-year-old has played two T20 internationals for Australia, and it’s his power-hitting that the selectors hope he can bring to balance the inexperienced batting group.
"We see (Maddinson) as a player of enormous potential," interim chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns said.
"He is definitely a game breaker and if we can get the best out of him at that level as I think we can, he could be a very, very important player for us down the track.
"Probably there were other (batsmen) considered, there’s no doubt about that.
"Form on the first two (Renshaw and Maddinson) were very important, there was always an area at the top of the order that was in contention.
"And Peter Handscomb getting 200, he’s been there and thereabouts for a good couple of years now.
"He’s always been spoken about in our selection meetings, hasn’t quite made the cut recently but now his form can’t be ignored."
While the young batting trio have shown recent state form, incumbent batsmen Burns, Voges and Ferguson failed to secure their position with a dominant performance at domestic level.
Burns, who made 0 and 1 in his comeback Test as cover for the injured Shaun Marsh, was out for 4 and 2 against South Australia.
Voges was forced to retire out on 16 after he was hit in the head by a bouncer in Perth and was later ruled out of the remainder of the match with concussion.
At 37, Voges may have played his last match in the Baggy Green with a Test batting average of 61.87.
And Ferguson, who made 3 and 1 on Test debut in Hobart, was out for 4 in each innings at the Gabba.
Along with the top-order facelift, Australia will have a new wicketkeeper for the first time since Lord’s in July last year when Nevill replaced stalwart Brad Haddin.
Wade played his most recent Test three-and-a-half years ago on the disastrous Test tour of India where four players were suspended for failing to complete a team sanctioned assignment.
While Nevill is widely considered the safest ‘keeper in the country, Wade’s Test average of 34.61 and two centuries will bolster the new-look batting line-up.
"(Nevill is) very unlucky, there's no doubt about that," Hohns said.
"But we consider Matthew Wade's wicketkeeping has improved to the extent that we've gone in that direction. There's no secret Matthew Wade's batting is very, very good, in fact he's scored hundreds in Test cricket.
"He's obviously seen as a tough competitor and that is what we're looking for in our players now, and we want them to get out there now and have a fair crack at this and go forward with that.
"We don't expect an immediate turnaround, but we've got a bit of faith in these guys now."
Lyon, Australia's most successful ever Test off-spinner, has earned a reprieve despite a disappointing run of form, which has seen him go 97 first-class overs without taking a wicket.
The incumbent's case was helped by the unavailability of Stephen O'Keefe, who suffered a minor calf injury at the SCG this week.
"Stephen was in serious contention, there’s no doubt," Hohns said.
"Nathan, as we all know, has over 200 Test wickets, he’s our best off-spinner that we’ve had ever. So it might not be that he’s not taking wickets at the moment, but there’s no indication that he’s bowling poorly.
"I’m sure if he continues to bowl well as we say in cricket, the wheel always turns."
Starc and Hazlewood are set to unite for the 17th time at Test level, leaving Bird and Sayers to shoot it out for the third seam bowling position.
Bird was overlooked for Mennie for the first Test in Perth due to his inferior batting ability, but was on standby for the Hobart match and has now been restored to the full squad.
The right-armer played the last of his five Tests in New Zealand earlier this year, taking a career-best 5-58 in Christchurch as Australia ascended to the top of the ICC Test team rankings, if only briefly.
Sayers, who also travelled to New Zealand with Bird and the Australians in February, represented Australia A in Brisbane in September before starting the Shield season in a blaze of glory, capturing six wickets in the opening round and 11-86 against Tasmania on his home turf at the Adelaide Oval.
"Chadd’s a very good performer, and a very good performer in Adelaide and that’s why he’s been chosen for this Test match," Hohns said.
"He bowls very well here as we all know, it was only two Sheffield Shield games ago he took 11 or 12 wickets here.
"Hopefully, if he plays, he can continue to perform well."
MEET AUSTRALIA'S FOUR NEW FACES
- Matt Renshaw. 20. Left-hander, averages 41 from 11 first-class games with two centuries. Yorkshire-born, moved to New Zealand aged seven, then Australia age 11. Queensland's leading Sheffield Shield run-scorer last season.
- Nic Maddinson. 24. Left-hander, averages 38 from 58 first-class games for NSW. Played two Twenty20 games for Australia in 2013. Has made two tons and an 86 in the Shield this season.
- Peter Handscomb. 25. Right-handed Victorian averaging a tick over 40 from 61 first-class games, nine centuries. Son of British parents, holds a British passport but has been in Australia's system since under 19s.
- Chadd Sayers. 29. Medium-fast bowler in the Alderman mould. Has taken 184 wickets at 23.80 in 46 first-class matches. Renowned for making the ball swing at Adelaide Oval.