Matthew Renshaw has received his first call-up to an Australian red-ball squad since 2018, with the forgotten opener brought in for the third Test against South Africa.
- With Australia ravaged by injuries, Matt Renshaw and Ashton Agar have been called up to the Test squad for the upcoming clash with South Africa at the SCG
- The duo last played Test cricket in 2018 and 2017, respectively
- Promising quick Lance Morris has retained his place in the squad and could be set for his Test debut
Renshaw is one of two additions to the 14-man squad for the New Year’s Test at the SCG, with spin-bowling all-rounder Ashton Agar also back in favour after injuries to star quick Mitchell Starc and Cameron Green at the MCG.
The 26-year-old Queenslander last played a Test in March 2018, when he rushed to South Africa after Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft were stood down after the Cape Town ball-tampering scandal.
After playing 10 Tests, Renshaw was dropped for Bancroft ahead of the 2017-18 Ashes as a result of poor Sheffield Shield form.
The left-hander failed to retain his Cricket Australia contract in 2019-20 and has been toiling away at domestic level for the Bulls ever since.
Renshaw’s Test average sits at 33.47 from 11 Tests with one century, a 184 against Pakistan, in January 2017.
Unlikely to play against the Proteas in the SCG Test, starting on January 4, Renshaw’s inclusion could be a hint to what selectors have in mind for February’s tour of India.
The last time Australia toured India back in 2017 Renshaw featured in all four Tests.
Agar is a more realistic option to play on an expected-spin-friendly pitch at the SCG.
The left-arm spinner could slot in at No.7 and leave wicketkeeper Alex Carey, fresh off a maiden Test century, to be promoted up the order.
Experienced quick Josh Hazlewood will almost certainly end a three-Test absence and return to the XI after recovering from a side-strain injury suffered against the West Indies in Perth earlier this month.
West Australian speed machine Lance Morris — who has been dubbed the new “Wild Thing” — has retained his spot in the squad and could make his Test debut.
Despite both players finishing the Boxing Day Test, Starc and Green will now recuperate as they aim to get themselves right for India.
“Ashton offers a second spin option should the Sydney pitch be conducive to turn, as it has done in the past. He also brings a solid batting component,” Australia selector Tony Dodemaide said.
“Matthew is included as a versatile batting option who is in good form, including an unbeaten century in the recent PM’s XI tour match against the West Indies.
“In terms of fast bowlers, it’s a blessing to have Josh (Hazlewood) returning while Lance (Morris) offers a genuine point of difference with his raw pace and skill.”
Pat Cummins (capt)