New Zealand's Tim Southee was supposed to be rested in the third Test against Australia, but he was already making headlines in Friday's first session at the SCG.
The Black Caps raised more than a few eyebrows when they named their team for the New Year's Test minus their fast bowling weapon.
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Hoping to avoid a series whitewash, Southee's absence seemed particularly baffling considering fellow strike weapon Trent Boult was already ruled out through injury.
New Zealand made the shock decision to drop Southee from the starting XI as a way of managing his workload, with the quick instead named as 12th man.
The bizarre decision took an even more peculiar twist during the first session when he came on as a substitute fielder after just 12 overs.
Commentating for Fox Sports, former England captain Michael Vaughan led the criticism of the move from the Kiwis.
“How can that be right that Tim Southee is out there fielding in the 12th over of the game, yet he’s not playing in the Test match?” Vaughan said.
“I’m absolutely staggered Southee is not playing.
“Twelve wickets at 26 a piece in the series. There’s a whisper they’ve rested him because of the workload but that can’t be right.
“It can’t be right that you’re resting Tim Southee in a game against Australia at the SCG.”
Viewers were also perplexed by Southee's absence and left their frustrations be known on social media.
Very odd looking New Zealand side.— peter brown (@peterrichardbro) January 3, 2020
No Williamson, Boult, Nicholas, Santner all injured.
Tim Southee dropped owing to work load ? What a very odd decision.
Love to hear Southee's view.#AUSvsNZ
Later today 8am GMT#SAvENG
With four forced changes for NZL through injury & illness coming into this Test the decision to rest Tim Southee strikes me as bizarre, especially given they have used him already as a substitute fielder 🤔 🏏 #AUSvNZ— Glenn Mitchell (@MitchellGlenn) January 3, 2020
Very strange decision, given his experience— Grant Turner (@GT8699) January 3, 2020
It's tough to digest that New Zealand team management chose to "rest" one of their most experienced and in-form player (Tim Southee is the 2nd highest wicket taker for NZ in this series) in a match where they're trying to avoid whitewash!! #AUSvsNZ— Rashmita Rakshit (@rashmita_1602) January 3, 2020
Wait so let me get this straight: Tim Southee is unfit to play in a team ravaged by injury and sickness, but is fit to run around in the field? pic.twitter.com/YOHIXUCkfo— Daniel Beswick (@DGBeswick1) January 3, 2020
Dropping Tim Southee should be a criminal offence and I simply cannot endorse it— Matt Potter (@thepostmanp) January 2, 2020
Hope Matt Henry does well though, very likeable cricketer
New Zealand were already down on troops heading into the third Test after being forced to rush debutant Glenn Phillips in for captain Kane Williamson.
That was merely one of five changes to the side asked to bowl first by Australia at the SCG on Friday.
Phillips only arrived from Auckland on Thursday night as cover for the skipper and batsman Henry Nicholls but will now play with both ruled out with illness.
Tom Latham becomes the Black Caps' 30th Test captain with Williamson missing, taking on the role for the first time in his career.
Aussies lose just one wicket in solid opening session
Australia compounded New Zealand's misery as they went to lunch at 1-95 against the hapless Black Caps on day one.
David Warner made it to 45 not out after playing nicely through the offside, while Marnus Labuschagne has worked the ball neatly off his legs to get to the first main break unbeaten on 28.
Joe Burns was the only man to fall in the opening session, edging one from Colin de Grandhomme to first slip for 18 runs as he lost his shape to a ball that straightened.
His wicket was the only positive moment on a tough day for New Zealand, who are already down 2-0 in the three-Test series.
In a horror morning for New Zealand, offspinner Mitchell Santner was also ruled out with a virus.
The absences compound the loss of Trent Boult who suffered a broken hand as the visitors were flogged at the MCG to go 2-0 down in the series.
Former NSW spinner Will Somerville and fellow tweaker Todd Astle were called into the team, while Matt Henry returns as a quick alongside Neil Wagner.
Out-of-form opener Jeet Raval returned at No.3.