Damien Martyn was shocked by his Test recall for the series in South Africa after scoring only 142 runs at 23.67 in three Pura Cup matches this season. Martyn, who was sacked following a dismal Ashes showing in the same year he was named Australia's best Test player, said he didn't think he was in the running for a tour spot.

"I hadn't really thought about it, it's a shock for me," Martyn told AAP. A veteran of 61 Tests, Martyn scraped 178 runs at 19.77 in England and was cut for the Super Test. "My bad series came at the wrong time," he said. "It probably came at a wrong time for a lot of us. It was disappointing, too, because we lost and the side didn't do well and we had to fall on the sword and get dropped for it."

Martyn was also sacked after the SCG defeat to South Africa in 1993-94 and said he tried not to get too excited about his return because he knew the downside. "When you get dropped it hurts," he said. "For me I'm at a point at my age I've been through the ups and downs and been dropped I don't know how many times now. I try to keep an even keel."

Martyn said not being part of the side was hard to swallow and admitted it was painful to watch the Boxing Day Test on television. "That's when it hits home," he said. "Because you've been a part of it so much, you always think about it. For me, just winning a Test match and singing the team song again - just simple things like that."

Michael Kasprowicz, Shaun Tait and Michael Clarke have also been recalled to the Test squad and Martyn said the players were hungry to regain the Ashes urn. "To win it back, you'd almost like the same side to go out there and give them a run for their money," he said. "But I'm not looking that far ahead, because I hit England batting well and I missed out after that. I'll just try and get through this tour."

Clarke, 24, faced a public axing in November following criticism that his technique was not tight enough. "My batting at the moment is a lot better than it has been, both mentally and technically," he said. "As much as you hate getting dropped, it certainly gave me some time to re-assess."