Adelaide - Crisis-torn Australia will attempt to prevent
rampant South Africa from an unprecedented series clean sweep in Thursday'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 chairperson 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.
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 chairperson, 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," Hohns said.
"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.
"It's no secret that our Test team has not functioned
or performed to the level we expect.
"We accept that a lot of the criticism that has come
our way has been warranted, however, I ask that everybody take a deep breath
and get behind these blokes in what is going to be a very testing time for
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 facing an ICC charge of ball tampering in the Hobart Test.
Du Plessis, who was fined 50 percent of his match fee in
2013 for ball tampering in the second Test against Pakistan, has pleaded not
guilty but could face a one-match ban, which may force him out of the Adelaide
Heightening tensions ahead of the game, South African
security staff shoved an Australian television reporter up against a glass door
as he attempted to interview du Plessis at Adelaide airport on Monday, with the
team accusing the media of "harassment".
Despite this, the South Africans, with their pace trio
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.
Australian (from) - David Warner, Matt Renshaw, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith (capt), Peter Handscomb, Nic Maddinson, Matthew Wade, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon, Jackson Bird, Chadd Sayers.
South Africa (from) - Stephen Cook, Dean Elgar, Hashim Amla, JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis (capt), Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock, Vernon Philander, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Kyle Abbott, Morne Morkel.
Umpires: Nigel Llong (ENG) and Richard Kettleborough (ENG)