Australia have made a staggering three changes for the third cricket Test against South Africa at the SCG, with Josh Hazlewood, Ashton Agar and Matt Renshaw all coming into the team. The Aussies were forced into changes after Mitchell Starc and Cameron Green both suffered finger injuries in the second Test at the MCG.
Hazlewood comes back in at the expense of unlucky seamer Scott Boland after missing the last three Tests with a side strain. Agar is playing after the Aussies opted for a second spinner on a dry SCG pitch, while Renshaw will bat at No.6 in place of Green.
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Agar hasn't played Test cricket since September 2017, but would likely have played in Sri Lanka last year before a side injury ruined his chances. Renshaw hasn't played a Test since 2018, but his recent Sheffield Shield form had already left him on the precipice of a potential return in India next month.
Cummins had refused to reveal his team when speaking to reporters on Tuesday. However he said he hoped the SCG pitch would provide some spin-friendly conditions ahead of Australia's tour of India, where the Aussies haven't won a series since 2004.
"It's a huge connection to India," Cummins said of the SCG pitch. "Fast bowling and reverse swing is going to come into it, which we can expect in India.
"(We'll) probably get more spin overs here, our batters are probably going to face more spin here as well. Even personally, captaining here might be a little different to the last few Test matches. So it's a really good prep."
Cummins said he wouldn't be concerned about only playing four front-line bowlers given Travis Head and Marnus Labuschagne can offer assistance with their part-time spin. "We'd be confident either way," he said.
"I feel really fresh. I've only played three Test matches and think we've averaged mid 20 overs (each) for the Tests. I'm fresh as I'm ever going to be for a fifth Test match. I'm not playing Big Bash so I get three weeks off after this."
SCG curators' incredible tribute to Shane Warne
Cricket Australia officials have opted to use the pitch on which Shane Warne played his last Test for the final match of the series. Curators have rolled out pitch No.3 for the match for the first time since Warne's own farewell in January 2007 - the strip which sits two to the left of the usual Test pitch No.5 and towards the Bill O'Reilly Stand.
"When we were doing our investigation, we worked out Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and Justin Langer had their final Test on pitch No.3," SCG curator Adam Lewis said. "So in our planning we had that in the back of our mind.
"We tried bringing grass in on pitch No.5 as best we could, but with the amount of play we've had through the whole season, it just couldn't get there in time. Knowing that Shane Warne and the guys played their last Test on No.3, it just felt right so we put our energy into it.
"Shane was really good not just for players, he was always good for curators. He always stood up for us and knew we wore our heart on our sleeves."
Ground staff are also hopeful the pitch will provide the same turn that Warne always hoped would be on offer at the SCG, where he also made his Test debut in 1992. At one stage the pitch was known as the best spinning wicket in Australia, but wet weather and batter-friendly wickets have forced draws in five of the past eight Tests at the ground.
"We're hoping for a traditional SCG pitch," Lewis said. "It's not quite what we've seen in the past few years. A few of the players have told me it looks like a wicket from about 10 years ago, which gave me a bit of confidence.
"It's thin on grass, a bit patchy and probably not the best looking pitch that we've seen, but we're looking forward to it and we've done the best we can."
AUSTRALIA XI: David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Matt Renshaw, Alex Carey, Ashton Agar, Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood.
SOUTH AFRICA XI: Dean Elgar, Sarel Erwee, Heinrich Klaasen, Temba Bavuma, Khaya Zondo, Kyle Verreynne, Marco Jansen, Keshav Maharaj, Simon Harmer, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje.
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