Matt Renshaw, Ashton Agar end lengthy absence as Scott Boland misses out for Sydney Test

Matt Renshaw and Ashton Agar will both end their lengthy Test absences, with the pair selected for the Sydney clash against South Africa.

Injuries to both Mitchell Starc and Cameron Green, as well as a mysterious SCG pitch, will see the Aussies head into the third and final match with the Proteas with a deep batting lineup.

Renshaw will slot into the middle-order, playing his first Test since April 2018, with his 11 matches to date producing three fifties and one century.

The 26-year-old scored his only Test ton in Sydney, producing a fantastic 184 against Pakistan in this fixture five years ago, and makes his return off the back of strong form in the Sheffield Shield competition. 

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News broke just 45 minutes after play began on the opening day that Renshaw had returned a positive COVID test result on Tuesday morning. 

ICC rules allow for a COVID replacement, but Renshaw is expected to take part in the match and will take precautions to keep his teammates away and prevent possible transmission of the virus. 

Agar will act as the second spinner for Australia and will end a five-year hiatus from the Test arena, with his last time donning the Baggy Green coming back in September 2017 against Bangladesh.

It will be the first Test appearance on home soil for Agar, whose previous appearances for Australia came in the sub-continent and England. 

The other major change to the side will see Scott Boland dropped in favour of a returning Josh Hazlewood, who missed the first two Tests due to a side strain. 

Boland has been impressive all summer and improved his Test record to 28 wickets in just six matches, with his average sitting at just 12.21 with the ball.

The absence of Starc, Boland and Green will see the Aussies head into the match with just two seamers, leaving plenty of overs likely falling to the returning Agar as well as Nathan Lyon.

Pat Cummins confirmed the final XI for the Aussies at the toss, with the skipper opting to bat first, and believes this is a good opportunity to look at some fresh faces before the all-important tour of India.

“It looks like a traditional SCG wicket, it might turn a little bit and it will probably be at its best on day one,” he said.

“We’ve got three changes – Cam Green and Starcy are obviously injured and Scotty misses out on this one. It is always difficult, especially having someone like Scotty who has done fantastically well for us.

“We thought about it, but it comes down to whether we are confident of taking 20 wickets with the four guys and in this case we are.

“It’s the luxury we have with the unfortunate injuries, this is probably the closest we’re going to get to India here in Australia.”

Australia XI vs South Africa

  1. David Warner
  2. Usman Khawaja
  3. Marnus Labuschagne
  4. Steve Smith
  5. Travis Head
  6. Matt Renshaw
  7. Alex Carey 
  8. Ashton Agar 
  9. Pat Cummins (c) 
  10. Nathan Lyon
  11. Josh Hazlewood

When was the last time Matt Renshaw played for Australia?

Renshaw’s last Test match for Australia came back in April 2018, playing in an away tour against South Africa. 

The series that Renshaw last featured in has become infamous for the ball-tampering scandal that saw Steve Smith, Cameron Bancroft and David Warner suspended – and it was the last time the left-hander featured until now.

After bursting onto the scene in December 2016 with a half-century against Pakistan on his home deck in Brisbane, Renshaw would score his only Test century in the Sydney Test in 2017, producing a memorable 184 against Pakistan.

Two half-centuries in India in early-2017 came prior to a major form slump, which saw Renshaw dismissed for less than 10 runs on seven occasions before being axed from the Test side. 

Matt Renshaw career record

Matches Innings Runs Average H.S
11 20 636 33.47 184

When was the last time Ashton Agar played for Australia? 

Agar’s last time in the Baggy Green came all the way back in 2017, featuring in a Test against Bangladesh during an away series.

The left-arm spinner first arrived at the international level in the 2013 Ashes series against England, scoring an unforgettable 98 on debut while batting at No.11 at Trent Bridge. 

His run in the Test side was sporadic over the next few years, featuring on just four occasions, but Agar was able to cement himself as a solid white-ball player.

Agar has amassed 67 matches across ODI and T20 cricket for Australia, taking 66 wickets and competing in multiple World Cups. 

Ashton Agar career record

Matches Wickets/Average Runs/Average
4 9 @ 45.55 195 @ 32.5


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