Former Australian all-rounder Simon O’Donnell has joined the chorus of outrage over the make-up of Australia’s Test squad to tour South Africa.
On the back of a historic series defeat to India, selectors made a number of bold decisions – including dropping veteran Mathew Wade despite his efforts playing in three different roles throughout the series.
Wade played in all four games against India – two as an opener and two in the middle order – making just 173 runs from eight innings at an average of 21.62.
He was axed – in what could prove terminal for his Test aspirations – while Travis Head, who was dumped mid-series against India, was handed a reprieve.
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“There’s six top spots and you’ve batted in three of them in four Test matches,” O’Donnell told SEN Breakfast of Wade.
“I really felt for him (Wade), that was a big ask and he created a couple of opportunities, he didn’t take them, but then not to be in a touring squad I think’s a real slap in the face.
“Travis Head’s still there. If Matthew Wade was a selection ahead of Travis Head, I’m not 100 per cent sure that works.
“I’m a Travis Head fan, I think he’ll be regular at five and six for the Australian team, he has to rectify getting out the same way too often. He’s a good kid, he’ll be working his butt off to do that.
“But the message that’s just been sent, I’m not sure it sits really well with me that that elevation has been made out of the practice nets and not games that have been played.”
Head played in the Adelaide and Melbourne Tests, making scores of 7, 38 and 17 for an average of 20.67, before being sent back to BBL cricket.
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Wade’s demotion also didn’t sit well with former Australia captain Michael Clarke, who bemoaned a lack of loyalty shown to the 33-year-old.
“What happened to that loyalty they showed to Joe Burns when it came to Matthew Wade,” Clarke said.
“Where has Matthew Wade gone? You batted out of position for them, went to the top of the order, did the right thing for the team, gets back. I know he didn’t score as many runs as they would like but hang on, one minute we’re hearing ‘the incumbent Joe Burns, support, support, support’ then Matthew Wade out the door.”
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Clarke added that selectors should explain their decision-making over the surprising decisions, claiming they “leave themselves open” to widespread criticism through a lack of transparency.
“I’m confused. Travis Head was not good enough two weeks ago but now he is back in and better than Matthew Wade who was good enough. Did they get the selection wrong two weeks ago when they dropped Travis Head for Matthew Wade?,” he said.
“Has Travis Head played a game since he was dropped … to fight his way back into the team? So how has he gone back into the team? This is what confuses me and this is why you regularly hear people having a crack at the selectors. They regularly leave themselves open.
“Explain why Matthew Wade is not in the squad, explain why Travis Head is back in, explain how you cannot discuss Tim Paine’s performance. They’re either not telling the truth or whoever is having these conversations are missing a trick.”