PERTH (Reuters) - Australia will need a new opening partnership when they look to turn around their fortunes in the second test against South Africa after Shaun Marsh was ruled out with a broken finger on Monday.
Cricket Australia announced after Australia had lost by 177 runs at the WACA that Marsh would require surgery on the digit and Joe Burns and Callum Ferguson would join the squad for the Hobart test, which starts on Saturday.
Burns will almost certainly replace Marsh in the opening partnership with David Warner, while Ferguson has been called up as potential cover for middle order batsman Adam Voges, who has suffered a hamstring injury.
Australia are perhaps fortunate that there is such a short gap between tests given the navel-gazing that is likely to follow their first defeat in the opening test of a home Summer for 28 years.
Captain Steve Smith had plenty of food for thought after Australia, having bowled out South Africa for 242 on day one, lost 10 wickets for 86 runs on day two to crash from 158 without loss to 244 all out.
“We weren’t able to capitalise from there and they were able to claw their way back,” Smith said.
”It’s obviously disappointing, we’ve had a few collapses in recent matches when we’ve had a chance to really drive the game so it’s something we’ve got to look at and something we’ve got to try and improve on.
“We need to try and let this performance go and come out in Hobart and try and turn it around. We’re going to have to play better cricket against a quality South African team if we’re going to do it.”
There had already been some raised eyebrows when, clearly heading for defeat, Australia announced on Sunday they would be taking the same 12-man squad to Hobart.
That left them with the single option of bringing in uncapped seamer Joe Mennie, presumably for Peter Siddle, if they wanted to change their line-up.
That changed with Marsh’s injury but it is the middle, not top order batting, that has most let Australia down and all-rounder Mitch Marsh, who took 2-100 and scored 26 runs in Perth, is perhaps fortunate not have been dropped.
Australia have now lost their last four tests after a 3-0 sweep in Sri Lanka in July and August and another defeat at home in Hobart is sure to trigger a full-blown crisis.
Reporting by Nick Mulvenney in Sydney, editing by Amlan Chakraborty