Triple gamble pays off for Australia

'I'd rather be in our change room than theirs' - Starc (0:48)

Australia fast bowler downplays the psychological edge gained from winning the first Test at the Gabba (0:48)

Australia's selectors made six changes for this Test. That, for the mathematically challenged, is more than half the team. Not since 1998 had Australia so significantly revamped their side between two Tests - on that occasion between Bangalore in March and Rawalpindi in October. It worked: Australia won by an innings in Rawalpindi and took the series. The final outcome this time remains to be seen, but Australia's selectors would so far be satisfied with their decisions.

Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc were always going to return in Brisbane after Steve O'Keefe and Ashton Agar formed part of a three-man spin attack in Chittagong, and Usman Khawaja's recall was expected in home conditions after Hilton Cartwright replaced him for a Test in Bangladesh. But the remaining three changes were more fundamental shifts, and all three of those inclusions have contributed significantly in this Test.

Shaun Marsh, chosen to replace Glenn Maxwell, contributed 51 in the first innings at the Gabba. It was a teaser of an innings, a start that will ensure Marsh retains his place in the side, but which could have turned into something bigger. Still, Marsh's contribution to a steadying 99-run stand with Steven Smith cannot be underestimated - even if Maxwell scored 278 at the same time in a Shield game in Sydney. Maxwell is waiting, but Marsh has played a useful role in Brisbane.

It was widely expected that Matthew Wade would lose his place having averaged 20.23 since his recall last summer at the expense of Peter Nevill. Wade was preferred due to his batting skills, and a lack of runs meant his position had become untenable. What was not anticipated was that his replacement would be his Tasmania team-mate Tim Paine, a man who has barely kept in the past few Sheffield Shield summers, and who had not scored a first-class hundred since 2006.

Paine's controversial inclusion, and the description by national selector Trevor Hohns of him as the best wicketkeeper in Australia, meant he would always be under immense scrutiny. A difficult dropped chance off Nathan Lyon's bowling in the first innings was thus heavily analysed. Paine needed one really sharp piece of work to ease the pressure, and it came when his quick hands whipped the bails off when Moeen Ali leaned forward and dragged his foot on to the crease off the bowling of Lyon.

Few people seemed confident in the appeal, but Paine was adamant Moeen was in trouble. The third umpire Chris Gaffaney agreed, albeit in a decision that created much debate. The dismissal of Moeen was all down to Paine, and came at an important time: England's lead stood at 129, and Moeen's departure precipitated a collapse of five wickets for 40, which in turn left Australia chasing a very gettable 170 for victory.

And that chase brought into play Australia's other new man, the debutant opener Cameron Bancroft, chosen to replace Matt Renshaw, who had been struggling for runs in the Sheffield Shield. Bancroft fell cheaply in the first innings, prodding tentatively and edging behind, and the importance of this second innings for him should not be forgotten. Two failures on debut would have heaped the pressure on to a young man of intense disposition.

Bancroft has incredibly high expectations of himself - he was struck on the helmet while fielding at short leg during this Test, and Mitchell Starc only half-jokingly said Bancroft was disappointed in himself at missing the chance - and likes always to be in the game. He has opened in all 123 of his first-class innings and only once, while opening with Kurtis Patterson for Australia A, has Bancroft not faced the first ball of the innings.

But if Bancroft walked to the crease with a lot on the line, he left the ground on the fourth evening having banked his place in the team. His composed, unbeaten 51 had taken Australia to within sight of victory and a 1-0 Ashes scoreline, and his 114-run stand with David Warner will, barring a catastrophe on day five, become just the seventh century opening partnership in successful Australian Test chases.

Bancroft looked unhurried at the crease, but was willing to attack when the opportunity presented, as when he lofted Moeen over long-off for the first six of his Test career. He is the first Australian opener to make his debut in an Ashes Test since Michael Slater in 1993 - Slater likewise scored a fifty on debut and went on to a long and fruitful career.

Australia's selectors picked Bancroft on his irresistible form, Marsh for his experience and Paine for his glovework. With Australia on the brink of victory and each of those men having made valuable contributions, Hohns and his panel will consider their decisions justified.