Australia's captain Tim Paine (L) speaks with Australia's Mitchell Starc
Australia's Test captain Tim Paine (left) speaks with senior paceman Mitchell Starc during their series against India. Paine has enjoyed the backing of national selectors for the immediate future. Image Credit: AFP

Kolkata: Australia’s Test captain Tim Paine will continue to enjoy the backing of their establishment for now as the national selectors decided against a major revamp while announcing their Test squad for the tour of South Africa on Wednesday.

Matthew Wade, who scored 173 runs at an average of 21.62 in four Tests against India as they lost the series 2-1, has been dumped for not delivering as a senior batsman but fellow middle order batsman Travis Head has been retained for having more “upside”, selector Trevor Hohns said.

Defending Paine after his leadership was criticised during the defeat to India, Hohns said: “Tims leadership in our mind was never in question.”

“We did not spend one minute on Tim’s leadership during our meeting ... Some of the criticism he’s had to endure ... has been pretty wide of the mark.”


Wade will now head to New Zealand with Australia’s Twenty20 squad for a five-match series starting on February 22 in Christchurch. “He certainly hasnt done enough over probably quite a few test matches now,” Hohns told reporters of Wade.

“Im not being unfair, he would recognise that fact as well. Holding out a specialist batting position (he) hasn’t quite done enough and as a senior player, we expect a little bit more.” Head was dropped after scores of seven, 38 and 17 in the first two Tests of the series.

“In Travis’s case, he ... has a little bit more upside and we have given him a bit of a vote of confidence to ... try and win his spot back in that batting line-up,” said Hohns.

“We consider that he can probably improve so much to the extent that he can fight his way back into the Australian side.” Wicketkeeper-batsman Alex Carey has been included in the bumper 19-man squad along with another uncapped player in Queensland paceman Mark Steketee.

Hohns said Carey was picked as a back-up wicketkeeper to Tim Paine but could make the team on the strength of his batting. Openers Will Pucovski and David Warner, and fast bowlers Mitchell Starc and James Pattinson, have all been selected despite suffering recent injuries.

The Australian and South African cricket boards have yet to sign-off on dates for the three-Test tour as authorities in South Africa battle to contain COVID-19 infections.

Australia also released an 18-man Twenty20 squad for the New Zealand tour, which includes uncapped players Tanveer Sangha, a 19-year-old legspinner, wicketkeeper-batsman Josh Philippe and paceman Riley Meredith.

Test squad: 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: 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, DArcy Short, Marcus Stoinis, Ashton Turner, Andrew Tye, Adam Zampa.