Australia announce squad for South Africa series, Tim Paine retained as skipper

Tim Paine was backed by Cricket Australia as Test skipper

Cricket Australia have announced their squad for the Test series against South Africa which begins next month. The 19-man squad includes five uncapped players for the yet-to-be-confirmed tour to South Africa. 

The dates for the tour are yet to be finalized, which is subject to satisfactory bio-security arrangements. If given the green light, Australia will play a three-match Test series against South Africa. It will be their first visit to the country since the 2018 ball-tampering scandal.

Australia have dropped Matthew Wade from the Test squad, following his poor performances against India. It opens up the opportunity for Travis Head to return to the side. Alex Carey, Sean Abbott, Michael Neser, Mitchell Swepson, and Mark Steketee are the five uncapped players in the squad.

The rest of the squad remains the same as the one from the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. Will Pucovksi will target an extended run as an opener, while Australia will look to bounce back from their 2-1 home defeat to India.

Cricket Australia also took the opportunity to back Tim Paine as their Test skipper. The 36-year-old came in for criticism for his captaincy against India, with many calling for him to be replaced by Pat Cummins or Steve Smith. However, Ben Oliver, Cricket Australia’s Executive General Manager National Teams, backed the skipper while announcing the squad for the South Africa tour.

“Tim Paine has been an outstanding captain since taking over the Australian men’s Test team in incredibly difficult circumstances. 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,” Ben Oliver said.

The series also holds relevance in the context of the ICC World Test Championship. Australia slipped to third place in the rankings after their series loss to India. To secure a place in the final at Lord’s, the Aussies now need to win at least two matches and avoid further losses. If they lose the series in South Africa, their hopes of making it to the final will come to an end.   

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.

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