Pat Cummins was chuffed to hear Tim Paine rates him as a contender to be Australia’s next Test captain, but the gun paceman says the topic remains a moot point while the keeper is still playing.
New Zealand have been dealt a massive blow before the SCG Test, with Kane Williamson’s illness-forced absence from the Black Caps’ lineup one of five changes.
Already trailing 2-0 in the three-Test series, the Kiwis will now have to face an unchanged Australian side without their best player and captain, who has been suffering from flu-like symptoms in the last few days.
Williamson isn’t the only Black Cap forced from the side with illness, with fellow batsman Henry Nicholls and spinner Mitchell Santner also ruled out of the match.
Both Williamson and Nicholls were given fitness tests this morning in a last-ditch attempt to get up for the match, but Santner didn’t even leave the team hotel to come to the ground.
Opening batsman Tom Latham will take the captaincy in Williamson’s absence, becoming the Black Caps’ 30th Test skipper in the process, while Jeet Raval comes back into the side at no.3 and Glenn Phillips will debut at no.5.
Former NSW Blues spinner Will Sommerville replaces Santner and is one of two specialist slow bowlers in the side, leg-spinner Todd Astle the other.
Trent Boult was ruled out of this Test after breaking a bone in his hand while batting in Melbourne, and Tim Southee has been dropped. Astle replaces the former, while Matt Henry takes Southee’s place.
The mass changes are in stark contrast to Australia, who have opted for an unchanged team from the one which dominated the Boxing Day Test. Making matters worse for the Kiwis was Tim Paine winning the toss and electing to bat.
Joe Burns, David Warner, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Matthew Wade, Travis Head, Tim Paine (c, wk), Pat Cummins, James Pattinson, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon
Tom Latham (c), Tom Blundell, Jeet Raval, Ross Taylor, Glenn Phillips, BJ Watling (wk), Colin de Grandhomme, Todd Astle, Will Sommerville, Matt Henry, Neil Wagner