Matthew Wade was dropped for the Australian Test series in South Africa on Wednesday after failing to shoot against India, while Tim Paine kept the captain under pressure. Wade played all four games in the thrilling 2-1 home-summer loss against India, including two as an improvised opener in place of the injured David Warner. But he only managed 173 out of his eight innings, with some hasty shots that eventually cost him his place in the squad and saw him replaced by Alex Carey as backup wicket-keeper. Instead, Wade will join Australia’s Twenty20 team on their tour of New Zealand as the vice-captain of out of shape Aaron Finch.
Australia will play three tests in South Africa. The tour was originally scheduled for February and March, but dates have yet to be fixed due to coronavirus concerns.
Cricket Australia on Wednesday reiterated its commitment to make the journey, with the tests expected to take place in March or April.
The five-game T20 tour of New Zealand will run from February 22 to March 7, clashing with South Africa, meaning a host of players, including Warner, Steve Smith and Pat Cummins, were unavailable.
Wade was the main victim of the India series, and the squad was pretty much the same.
Uncapped bowlers Sean Abbott, Michael Neser and Mitchell Swepson are included again, with fellow speedy Mark Steketee and Carey the only newcomers.
Carey’s inclusion was seen as significant, with the 29-year-old, who excelled for Australia in limited overs internationals, being tipped off as a potential successor to captain Paine, 36.
Paine had an underperforming streak against India, particularly the last two Tests, as he dropped a ton of opportunities and came under fire over his bowling changes, field placements and decisions on when to declare.
He was also fined for a curse-laden rant against a referee and forced to apologize after an ugly verbal rant at Ravi Ashwin in India, all of whom scrutinized his captain.
– ‘Breed of the mark’ –
But National Selector Trevor Hohns insisted Paine was still the right man for the job.
“Tim Paine was excellent at number seven against India and as a batsman, wicket-keeper and captain still has a lot to offer in the Test Arena,” he said.
Cricket Australia’s national team chief Ben Oliver also gave Paine his support.
“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 not changed that,” he said.
“After a series that drew so much global attention, it was inevitable that attention would be drawn. But some of the commentary surrounding Tim and his position as Test captain was far behind us.”
The absence of several T20 regulars opened the door for some fresh faces to make the trip to New Zealand, with three uncapped players on the squad, including teenage leg spinner Tanveer Sangha.
The other rookies are opener and glove man Josh Philippe and fast bowler Riley Meredith.
Paceman Jhye Richardson and Jason Behrendorff and spinner Ashton Agar return to the Australian colors after prolonged injuries.
Test team for South Africa: Tim Paine (capt), Pat Cummins, 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
T20 squad for New Zealand: Aaron Finch (capt), Matthew Wade, Ashton Agar, Jason Behrendorff, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Ben McDermott, Riley Meredith, Josh Philippe, Jhye Richardson, Kane Richardson, Daniel Sams, Tanveer Sangha, D’Arcy Short, Marcus Stoinis, Ashton Turner, Andrew Tye, Adam Zampa
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