Cricket Australia have confirmed that Ashton Agar and Matt Renshaw have been added to the squad for the third Test against South Africa starting on January 4th at the Sydney Cricket Ground, with the pair roped-in as replacement for the injured Cameron Green.
While Renshaw, who has batted in the middle-order for Queensland in the past but currently is an opener, will slot into the XI in place of Green should the Aussies opt for a 7-4 combo, Agar will likely serve as a more direct replacement, filling-in the all-rounder’s role playing at No.7.
A return to the starting XI will mark a first Test appearance since 2017 for Agar, who earlier this year was initially selected in the tour of Sri Lanka but missed the same with a side strain.
The prospect of Agar playing, it would seem, is likelier, but the 29-year-old has not played a lot of red-ball cricket in the years gone by. Since the start of 2020, Agar has featured in just six red-ball games and has averaged 47.2 with the ball. He’s fared much better with the bat in this period, however, striking 267 runs at an average of 44.5.
Renshaw, on the other hand, has been enjoying a stellar Shield campaign, averaging 51.66 opening the batting for Queensland. The 26-year-old struck his maiden double-ton in red-ball cricket this season, and also scored a century in the tour match against West Indies, representing the Prime Minister’s XI.
Australia have chosen to not name a replacement for the other injured player, Mitchell Starc, thanks to the presence of both Josh Hazlewood and tearaway Lance Morris. Head coach Andrew McDonald, during the Boxing Day Test, hinted Morris could come into the XI should Starc be ruled out, but it remains to be seen whether the Western Australian speedster will keep Hazlewood on the bench, or will play alongside the right-armer, with Scott Boland dropping to the bench.
Australia squad for SCG Test
Pat Cummins (c), Ashton Agar, Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Lance Morris, Nathan Lyon, Matthew Renshaw, Steve Smith, David Warner