Matthew Wade has been dropped from Australia’s Test squad for the series against South Africa, while Travis Head earns another crack.
The tour has been officially confirmed by the countries’ boards but is schedule start at the beginning of March and is likely to include three Tests, all which will be played on the Highveld. The teams are expected to enter a bio-secure bubble at the Irene Country Club at the end of February.
Alex Carey has been included as the backup wicketkeeper, while Mark Steketee bolsters the fast-bowling ranks.
Wade made just 173 runs at 21.26 against India, opening the batting for the first two Tests in David Warner’s absence before returning to the middle order. Head is expected to slot into the middle order.
‘Matthew in our view hasn’t done enough … over probably quite a few Test matches now,’ national selector Trevor Hohns said. ‘I’m not being unfair to him, he would recognise that fact as well. He’s holding down a batting position at No 5, sure he put his hand up to have a crack up the top, but holding down a specialist batting position he hasn’t quite done enough. As a senior player we expect a little bit more.
‘In Travis’ case he, to us, has a little bit more up side and we have given him a bit of a vote of confidence to try and win his spot back. We know Travis works very hard on his game and we consider he can probably improve so much to the extent that he can fight his way back.’
Meanwhile, Hohns said the selection panel had not spent a moment debating Tim Paine’s position as captain. Paine was involved in a heated exchange with Ravi Ashwin in the Sydney Test and also fined for showing dissent towards the umpire.
‘Tim’s leadership in our mind was never in question, we didn’t spend one minute on Tim’s leadership during our selection meeting,’ Hohns said. ‘He’s been a terrific leader through some pretty trying circumstances.
‘I must say, too, if you don’t mind, some of the criticism he’s had to endure in our view has been pretty wide of the mark and in particular some of it has been in poor taste from overseas people. I think Tim has been unfairly criticised in this instance.’
Test squad: Tim Paine (c), Pat Cummins (v-c), Sean Abbott, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Moises Henriques, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Will Pucovski, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Mark Steketee, Mitchell Swepson, David Warner.