ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA — NOVEMBER 20: Interim Chairman of Selectors Trevor Hohns speaks to the media during a Cricket Australia press conference at Adelaide Oval on November 20, 2016 in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by Morne de Klerk/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
TREVOR Hohns has pleaded for a restless cricketing public to show patience, as selectors took drastic measures to try and restore Australia’s credibility as a Test nation.
However, that call for calm doesn’t mean the six new faces in the dressing room are guaranteed an extended stay in the baggy green, with futures to be re-evaluated ahead of the next Test series against Pakistan in December.
Nic Maddinson, Peter Handscomb and Matt Renshaw are set for a baptism of fire in the third Test against South Africa in Adelaide, and if Chadd Sayers can oust Jackson Bird for a final fast bowling spot it will mark the first time Australia has fielded four debutants in a match since the 1970s.
Interim Chairman of Selectors Trevor Hohns has pleaded for patience.Source: News Corp Australia
To wield the axe more viciously than it has for well over a century, Australia has taken one of cricket’s greatest ever gambles in a bid to rescue itself from a summer of shame.
Callum Ferguson and Joe Mennie have been shown the door after just one Test, but selectors determined in a meeting in Adelaide on Saturday night that a crisis was not the time for traditional thinking to apply.
David Warner is now the eldest in the squad at just 30 years and 24 days, and the almost unprecedented overhaul in personnel is virtually an admission that selectors had been doing it all wrong before.
Hohns started his press conference with an address to the cricketing public of Australia to implore that such a radical and fluid strategy could take some time to bear fruit.
“Obviously the past few days have been very challenging and important for cricket in this country, since the surprise resignation of Rod Marsh,” said Hohns.
“This panel with the support of our administrators decided to revamp our team taking into account form, ability and or potential to perform at Test level.
“We see this as a very exciting challenge for everybody concerned.
“I’m not for one minute going to suggest an immediate turnaround. 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.
“We accept that a lot of the criticism that has come our way has been warranted, however, I ask that everybody takes a deep breath and gives this new team a bit of space.
“We need everyone to get behind these blokes.”
The polarising reaction to selections on social media yesterday suggests Australia’s rocky road is far from over.
Peter Nevill’s dumping for Matthew Wade as wicketkeeper split opinion, while Maddinson’s first class average of 38 was also brought into question.
Debutants Peter Handscomb and Nic Maddinson are both expected to make their Test debuts.Source: News Corp Australia
Looking at the middling numbers across the board in Shield cricket, selectors were right to pick this side largely on “instinct”.
However, just because Australia has invested in youth doesn’t mean the panel will be tying themselves to any individual selection for the long haul.
Hohns wants to see evidence that batsmen are hungry before any assurances are given.
“It’s not about how much time,” said Hohns.
“What we would like to see now is a better performance.
“If this group can give us a better performance, that will hold them in good stead going forward.
“At the moment this team is for the Adelaide Test. Then we go into one dayers, a different format, then we come back again and reselect for the Test matches against Pakistan.
Matthew Wade will play his first Test since 2013.Source: Getty Images
“All we can do is give people the opportunity, and it really is up to them to take it.
“What that period of time is, is completely up to us and at our discretion.”
The last time Australia had six changes from one Test to the next was during the Civil War of 1884-85, although in 1984 there were six changes made from one series to the next.
Joe Burns, Mennie, Nevill and Ferguson were all axed, Adam Voges and Mitchell Marsh weren’t considered due to injury, while Nathan Lyon likely would have been tossed out too if rival spinner Steve O’Keefe hadn’t succumbed to a calf injury.
Selectors were after youth and toughness and rewarded newcomers Handscomb and Renshaw on form after they smashed double hundreds and hundreds respectively in the Sheffield Shield round.
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Hohns believes that this embarrassing series loss to South Africa might prove a turning point for Australian cricket.
“I’m not so sure it’s a bad crisis,” he said.
“As I suggested, it wasn’t long ago we were number one in the world.
“Things haven’t gone our way, no excuses — we haven’t played well.
“A lot of countries go through this, I have no doubt.
“We’ve got to try to get on the upward spiral if we possibly can.
“We’ve put a lot of faith in these players now, everything is there provided for them to improve their game and continue to hopefully perform well.”