SYDNEY, (Reuters) – Australia’s selectors have responded to the threat of a first ever test series sweep on home soil by dropping five players from their squad for the third match against South Africa, which begins in Adelaide on Thursday.
Joe Burns, Adam Voges and Callum Ferguson, as well as wicketkeeper Peter Nevill, paid the price for a string of batting collapses, while seamer Joe Mennie was also axed after the innings defeat in the second test in Hobart.
Four uncapped players openers Matt Renshaw and Nic Maddinson, wicketkeeper-batsman Peter Handscomb and seamer Chadd Sayers came into the 12-man squad.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Matthew Wade and seamer Jackson Bird, both given previous chances at test level before being discarded, were also recalled.
South Africa have ensured a third straight series triumph in Australia with thumping victories in Perth and Hobart, rendering the day-night third test a dead rubber and plunging the host nation into crisis.
Chief selector Rod Marsh stood down from his post ahead of schedule last week and so on Sunday it was his temporary replacement Trevor Hohns who wielded the axe in Adelaide.
“Matt has established himself in a short period of time as one of the best young opening bats in the country,” Hohns said.
“Peter’s form over the last couple of seasons has been very consistent. He has a good all-round game and we think he is the type of player who could succeed at the next level.”
“Nic is an exciting and talented young player and we feel now is the ideal time for him to be involved with the Australian team.”
Coach Darren Lehmann suggested after the Hobart defeat that only captain Steve Smith, his vice-captain David Warner and seamers Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc were secure and the selection panel was true to his word.
Top order batsman Usman Khawaja, who has been recalled and discarded regularly since making his debut during the 2010-11 Ashes series, also survived along with off-spinner Nathan Lyon.
Sayers and Bird are likely to be in contention for one spot in the pace attack along with Starc and Hazlewood, while Wade looks set to replace Nevill behind the stumps.
“Chadd bowls very well in Adelaide and Jackson is coming off a strong performance in his last test match earlier in the year and both deserve their chance,” Hohns added.
“Matthew has worked extremely hard on his keeping in the past few seasons and we consider it to have improved substantially. He is also a very valuable player with the bat and will add to the depth in our batting order.”
Squad: Steve Smith (captain), David Warner, Jackson Bird, Peter Handscomb, Josh Hazlewood, Usman Khawaja, Nic Maddinson, Nathan Lyon, Matt Renshaw, Chadd Sayers, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade.