Wicketkeeper Tim Paine, and batsmen Cameron Bancroft and Shaun Marsh have replaced Matthew Wade, Matt Renshaw and Glenn Maxwell in Australia's Test team to face England at the Gabba. The squad for the first Ashes Test has raised plenty of eyebrows but bears the captain Steven Smith's stamp of approval.
Having been dropped himself as a younger player, Smith said he understood why the selectors did not feel they could risk choosing Renshaw in the midst of an early-season slump, while at the same time Bancroft had emerged from the pack by piling up 407 runs for twice out in his four most recent Sheffield Shield innings.
"I spoke to him last night actually and he was obviously disappointed to not be included in the squad, as you should be, you always want to be playing for Australia," Smith said of Renshaw. "So for him it's about going back and scoring as many runs as he can. I think he's an incredibly talented player and I think he's got a big future for Australia.
"But he unfortunately hasn't been able to get the runs on the board that the selectors wanted, and the Ashes isn't a place where you need to be trying to find your form. I think it's great what the selectors have done, they've gone with the guys that are in-form and if the top six are getting big runs for us, I'm confident our bowlers can do the job."
As for Bancroft, Smith said a double of 76 not out (when he carried his bat) and 86 against the Test attack for Western Australia against New South Wales at Hurstville had convinced him the 24-year-old was ready. "He's been looked at for some time," Smith said. "He was included on the tour to Bangladesh a couple of years go which didn't go ahead, and I guess the selectors said at the start of the Sheffield Shield that there's a bit of pressure on for some spots and guys that can put their hand up are going to be considered.
"He's one who I thought played particularly well against a Test attack, particularly the first innings, there was grass on the wicket and it was doing a bit. He's got a lot of time as a batsman, he's composed, probably tightened his technique up a lot since I saw him last and if he goes in with that same mindset in Test cricket then hopefully he can score some big runs for us at the top of the order."
Smith was also eager to resume a long-dormant partnership with Paine, who made his Test debut alongside none other than Smith in a match against Pakistan at Lord's in 2010. "I've known Tim for a very long time," he said. "He's a guy with an incredible knowledge of the game, he has a great presence on the field and is a terrific gloveman. His inclusion may have come as a surprise to a lot of people but I'm excited what he brings to the team. I'm sure he'll do a terrific job for us."
Smith had noted the intense lobbying of the WA coach Justin Langer, who vouched for Marsh being "in the form of his life" despite not averaging over 40 in the Shield over three matches. Marcus Stoinis was also considered in strong contention for the No. 6 position, but the death of his father this week after a long illness has taken the allrounder away from the game for the time being.
"He's been opening the batting, so No. 6 is a spot where you could potentially face the second new ball and he's been doing that," Smith said of Marsh. "He scored some good runs against us in Hurstville and he's hitting the ball really well. I think Justin Langer's saying for some time he's been in the form of his life and it looked like he was batting incredibly well, so I'm confident in the six batters we've picked that they can do a terrific job."
The panel have also included the South Australian seam and swing bowler Chadd Sayers in a 13-man group, which will now assemble in Brisbane to prepare. Paine's selection for his first Test match in more than seven years - and after he played as a batsman alongside Wade this week for Tasmania - is the headline move, while the decisions to reinstate Marsh and drop Renshaw will also generate heated debate.
"Tim was identified as an international player a long time ago and has always been renowned as a very good gloveman, also performing well for us whenever he has represented Australia in any format," selection chairman Trevor Hohns said. "His batting form in recent outings for the Cricket Australia XI and Tasmania has been good.
"Matt Wade has been left out of the squad following some inconsistent performances with the gloves and lack of form with the bat. Unfortunately, his run of performances did not improve in the early rounds of Sheffield Shield and we have opted to make a change.
"We still view Matthew [Renshaw] as a player of immense talent, but he is out of form at the moment and we don't feel an Ashes Test match is the best place for him to find form. We would like him to go back to first-class cricket and push his name forward with the selection panel through big runs."
Hohns said that Bancroft had demanded his spot through weight of runs in recent weeks. "Cameron has been a player of interest to us for some time now, having been unlucky to miss out on the Test tour to Bangladesh that was cancelled in 2015," Hohns said. "He is a very talented and tough cricketer who shows a good temperament for Test cricket.
"He has thoroughly earned and deserves his call-up following some outstanding performances in the early rounds of the Sheffield Shield competition this season. Shaun is playing very well at the moment, having scored consistently in the One-Day Cup and first three rounds of the Sheffield Shield competition. He is a versatile player who can slot in anywhere in the batting order and will add valuable experience to the batting line-up."
Sayers, meanwhile, looks a likely inclusion for the second Test of the series in Adelaide, where he is a noted exponent of moving the pink ball under lights. "Chadd's inclusion in the squad is with a view to the Adelaide Test and the conditions that we may see there," Hohns said. "He swings the ball with good control and knows the conditions well at his home ground. He gives us this bowling option if required."