Matthew Wade has paid the ultimate price for Australia’s Test series loss to India, dropped for the team’s upcoming tour of South Africa.
Selectors named five uncapped players in a 19-man squad on Wednesday, however Wade was a major omission.
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Wade played in all four Tests against India, scoring 173 runs from eight innings at an average of 21.62.
The middle-order batsman was instead named in an 18-man squad to play five T20s in New Zealand next month.
Wicketkeeper Alex Carey headlines the list of uncapped players in the Test squad, with skipper Tim Paine retaining his spot despite calls for his axing.
Sean Abbott, Michael Neser, Mitchell Swepson and Queensland fast-bowler Mark Steketee are the others.
Wade was thrust into the unfamiliar role of opener to begin the Test series but earned criticism for some loose dismissals as he went 14 innings without a half-century as India shocked the hosts to win the series 2-1.
Head will compete with Moises Henriques and Carey, who struck a BBL century last week and could play as a specialist batsman, for the vacant middle-order spot.
“When presented with the challenging task of selecting two concurrent Australian men’s squads for overseas tours, we picked our first-choice Test squad given the importance of the proposed series against South Africa,” head selector Trevor Hohns said.
“The squad is quite similar to that selected for the final two Tests of the recently-completed Border-Gavaskar series, with the exception of Matt Wade, who will join the Australian men’s T20I squad in New Zealand, and the addition of Alex Carey, who has been in strong form with both bat and gloves.
“It is testament to the depth of Australian cricket that the NSP (National Selection Panel) has been able to select two Australian men's international squads of such quality.”
Selectors throw support behind Tim Paine
Ben Oliver, Cricket Australia’s Executive General Manager of National Teams, threw his full support behind Paine.
“Tim Paine has been an outstanding captain since taking over the Australian men's Test team in incredibly difficult circumstances,” Oliver said.
“Tim has the support of the team, the coach and everyone else at Cricket Australia and the result of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy series has done nothing to diminish that.
“Tim is in career-best form with the bat and, while the series against India was not his best with the gloves by his own admission, he remains in the top echelon of wicketkeepers globally.
“And as a leader, he has been brilliant. To captain a squad through the many challenges presented by the pandemic - not least the unique pressures of hub life - is no easy task and Tim did that with strength, humility and good humour.
“After a series that attracted so much global interest, it was inevitable there’d be scrutiny. But some of the commentary surrounding Tim and his position as Test captain has been wide of the mark.”
Meanwhile, Aaron Finch will captain the T20 side for the five-game series against the Black Caps.
He will lead an 18-man squad that includes emerging spinner Tanveer Sanga and fit-again fast bowler Jhye Richardson and will not change regardless of the status of the South African tour, which remains subject to suitable biosecurity arrangements.
Australia Test squad for South Africa:
Tim Paine (c), Sean Abbott, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins, 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
Australia T20 squad for New Zealand:
Aaron Finch (c), Ashton Agar, Jason Behrendorff, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Ben McDermott, Riley Meredith, Josh Philippe, Kane Richardson, Jhye Richardson, Daniel Sams, Tanveer Sangha, D'Arcy Short, Marcus Stoinis, Ashton Turner, Andrew Tye, Matthew Wade, Adam Zampa
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