ADELAIDE: Crisis-torn Australia will attempt to prevent rampant South Africa from an unprecedented series clean sweep in tomorrow’s day-night third Test in Adelaide after a team shake-up of historic proportions.
Stung by two humiliating defeats in Perth and Hobart, the Aussies have made six changes in a bid to stop the rot and fight off the Proteas’ quest to become the first touring team to sweep a series in Australia.
It is a seismic selection switch in the wake of last week’s sudden resignation of chairman of selectors Rod Marsh and intensifying pressure on the game’s top officials and coach Darren Lehmann.
Not since only two players from the fifth Test against England in August 1977 made it into the team for the first Test against India three months later, after World Series Cricket rebelled against the establishment, has there been such a clean-out of the Australian side.
Australia make six changes for day-night Test against South Africa
The last time there were as many as five changes mid-season which is likely given either pacemen Jackson Bird or Chadd Sayers is likely to be 12th man in Adelaide was in the 1977-78 series against India after an innings defeat in Sydney.
Selectors, with Trevor Hohns taking over from Marsh as interim chairman, named three young batsmen English-born Matt Renshaw, Peter Handscomb and Nic Maddinson to make their debuts and recalled Sayers, Bird and wicketkeeper Matthew Wade.
It was a decisive and drastic intervention by the under-fire selection panel in the wake of Australia’s fifth straight heavy Test defeat, including the 3-0 series drubbing in Sri Lanka last August.
“I’m not for one minute going to suggest an immediate turnaround,” said Hohns. “Patience will be required but we are obviously hopeful that these players can gel together and ultimately stop the downward losing momentum we are currently experiencing.”
Australia’s Wade up for ‘the scrap’ against South Africa
The reinforcements will be aiming to bolster Australia’s insipid batting, which was routed for 85 by South Africa in Hobart after suffering a humiliating 10-for-86 collapse in the first innings at Perth.
Lehmann said it was important he and fellow coaches instil confidence and positivity in the new-look squad.
“I’ve never seen a side so hurt after Hobart, an Australian side. We’ve got to pick them up, get them positive,” he said.
South Africa have problems of their own with skipper Faf du Plessis found guilty of an ICC charge of ball tampering in the Hobart Test.
Faf du Plessis fined entire match fee for ball-tampering
Du Plessis, who was fined 50% of his match fee in 2013 for ball tampering in the second Test against Pakistan, was fined 100% of his Hobart match fee but was cleared to play in this week’s third Test.
Despite this, the South Africans, with their pace trio of Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada and Kyle Abbott dominating the Australian batting, will fancy their chances bowling with the pink ball in swinging conditions under lights at Adelaide Oval.
It will be only the second day-night Test in Australia after the home side thrillingly beat New Zealand by three wickets on only the third day in Adelaide last year.
Courtesy : Express Tribune