Nic Maddinson is one of three batsmen who will make his Test debut for Australia in Adelaide © Getty Images
Matt Renshaw, Peter Handscomb and Nic Maddinson have been thrust into the firing line as debut batsmen for an embattled Australia amid a drastically changed squad for the third Test against South Africa.
The interim selection chairman Trevor Hohns also included Chadd Sayers as an Adelaide Oval specialist for the day/night match alongside Jackson Bird, with Matthew Wade to retake the gloves in a Test for the first time since the 2013 tour of India.
Six changes from one Test squad to another is a figure not seen in Australian cricket history since 1984, when the same number was made between back-to-back Test series against the fearsome West Indies team that ultimately broke Kim Hughes’ captaincy.
Joe Burns, Adam Voges (concussion), Callum Ferguson, Peter Nevill and Joe Mennie are the casualties of the innings defeat in Hobart that handed the series to South Africa and also triggered the resignation of the selection chairman Rod Marsh.
There may have been another change too if not for a calf injury to the left-arm spinner Steve O’Keefe, who had up until Saturday been favoured to oust the incumbent the spin bowler Nathan Lyon, who has struggled notably for wickets or impact so far this summer.
Hohns spoke strongly of Renshaw as an occupier of the crease, and of Handscomb and Maddinson as aggressive players in the classic Australian mould. Maddinson’s inclusion was somewhat surprising ahead of his fellow New South Welshman Kurtis Patterson.
“Matt has established himself in a short period of time as one of the best young opening bats in the country,” Hohns said. “His form is currently very good and we see him as a very exciting prospect for the future.
“Peter’s form over the last couple seasons, and with Australia A, 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. He has the ability to break the game open and we think he will flourish in this environment.”
Bird and Sayers were included primarily as support bowlers for Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood. Both had been chosen for the tour of New Zealand earlier this year.
“We consider Chadd and Jackson to be very good bowlers that also can bowl a large amount of overs in conjunction with Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood,” Hohns said. “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.”
Wade’s inclusion marks a significant change in philosophy for Australia, rewarding his batting ability and fighting demeanour ahead of the neater gloveman in Nevill. Lyon in particular will have to get used to the change.
“Matthew has worked extremely hard on his keeping in the past few season and we consider it to have improved substantially,” Hohns said. “He is also a very valuable player with the bat and will add to the depth in our batting order.”
Squad David Warner, Matt Renshaw, Usman Khawaja, Steven Smith, Peter Handscomb, Nic Maddinson, Matthew Wade (wk), Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon, Jackson Bird, Chadd Sayers.
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo