Uncertainty over Shaun Marsh's badly broken finger has ensured that Australia's revamped Test squad was retained for the first Test against Pakistan at the Gabba.
The selectors had made sweeping changes after Australia's crushing defeat in Hobart, where South Africa secured the series, and only six of the XI from that Test retained their places for the day-night Test in Adelaide. Matt Renshaw, Peter Handscomb and Nic Maddinson all made their debuts in Adelaide, where Australia picked up a consolation victory.
Maddinson, who made 80 in a Sheffield Shield match for New South Wales this week, was thought he man most likely to make way in the event of Marsh returning to fitness. However Marsh was not considered as he continues rehabilitation after a broken finger suffered against South Africa in Perth.
"Shaun has yet to resume batting and will have a follow-up x-ray this week that will be reviewed by a specialist," the CA head of sports science Alex Kountouris said. "This will determine when he can resume cricket training."
It is believed that Marsh's finger injury, a re-break suffered during the first Test after he initially fractured it in Sri Lanka, is of a more serious nature than initially thought. Australia's coach Darren Lehmann conceded that Marsh would now need to prove his fitness via the Big Bash League - either for the Pakistan series or the tour of India next year, for which he is considered a vital component given a sound batting method against spin.
"Fingers crossed. Hopefully he'll be batting soon, the specialist will be seeing him this week and hopefully that goes well and he starts batting again," Lehmann said. "He's only got BBL to play. If he plays that and gets through he'll be available for selection.
"Usman Khawaja did it last year, he had a BBL game from a hamstring and that's all we had to go on. As long as they can get through then they're available."
Lehmann also said Marsh would be able to slot into a middle order role when fit, despite most recently playing as an opener alongside David Warner. "He did really well in Perth in the Test match for us opening, he scored a hundred for us opening but he's had success down the order as well," Lehmann said. "He's one of those guys who can fit in anywhere in the top six which is pleasing to have. It depends on what happens with other positions."
The Gabba Test is also a day-night affair, and given Australia's success in Adelaide and the desire for stability, there is every chance they will take an unchanged XI into a Test for the first time in more than a year. The only possible alteration would be if Adelaide 12th man Chadd Sayers came into contention, and he did his chances no harm by taking eight wickets in the Sheffield Shield this week.
"We were very pleased with how the team came together in Adelaide after some significant changes following the Tests in Perth and Hobart," the interim selection chairman Trevor Hohns said. "This is a young group with a lot of promise and we believe all deserve their opportunity again in this upcoming Test."
Of Australia's debutants from the previous match, Maddinson in particular will be keen to prove his Test worth at the Gabba, having fallen for a 12-ball duck in his only innings of the Adelaide Test. Maddinson bounced back from that disappointment with 80 in the first innings for New South Wales this week in their Shield game against South Australia.
The other Adelaide debutants, Handscomb and Renshaw, both enjoyed longer stays at the crease in their first appearance for Australia. Handscomb scored a half-century in the first innings and then hit the winning runs in the second, while Renshaw occupied the crease for 137 balls in Australia's chase to help them secure victory.
Squad David Warner, Matt Renshaw, Usman Khawaja, Steven Smith (capt), Peter Handscomb, Nic Maddinson, Matthew Wade (wk), Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon, Jackson Bird, Chadd Sayers.