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Matthew Wade dropped from Test squad, Travis Head set to reclaim middle-order spot

Alex Carey and Mark Steketee have been included for the South Africa tour which is still awaiting final approval from the two boards

Andrew McGlashan
Andrew McGlashan
Matthew Wade was caught down the leg side for a duck, Australia vs India, 4th Test, Brisbane, 4th day, January 18, 2021

Matthew Wade had a disappointing Test series against India  •  AFP

Matthew Wade has been dropped from Australia's Test squad for the series against South Africa, and will instead tour New Zealand with the T20I side when the concurrent trips are due to take place in February and March, while Travis Head has been given a "a vote of confidence" by the selectors to earn back his spot.
The South Africa tour, which is set to include three Tests, is still awaiting final sign-off between the two boards with the series currently expected to begin in early March. The squad to New Zealand is due to depart on February 7.
Alex Carey has been included in the Test squad while Queensland quick Mark Steketee has also been called up with Jhye Richardson, who had been tipped for the South Africa trip, heading to New Zealand instead.
The T20I squad includes a host of names who have impressed during the BBL including 19-year-old legspinner Tanveer Sangha who has starred for Sydney Thunder. Josh Philippe and Riley Meredith are the other uncapped players.
Wade had a disappointing series against India where he made 173 runs at 21.26 and his shot selection came under particularly scrutiny in the final two Tests when he moved back down to the middle order having helped fill the opening void in the absence of David Warner and Will Pucovski. Head, who was dropped midway through the India series, is now likely to return to the No. 5 position.
"Matthew in our view hasn't done enough...over probably quite a few Test matches now," national selector Trevor Hohns said. "I'm not being unfair to him, he would recognise that fact as well. He's holding down a batting position at No. 5, sure he put his hand up to have a crack up the top, but holding down a specialist batting position he hasn't quite done enough. As a senior player we expect a little bit more.
"In Travis' case he, to us, has a little bit more up side and we have given him a bit of a vote of confidence to try and win his spot back. We know Travis works very hard on his game and we consider he can probably improve so much to the extent that he can fight his way back."
Pucovski ended the series on the sidelines again due to a shoulder injury following an impressive debut at the SCG, but he and Warner are likely to form the opening partnership going forward although Hohns did not rule out Pucovski being considered for the middle order.
It has been determined that Pucovski does not need surgery on his shoulder and is on track to be fit for the tour. James Pattinson, who suffered a rib injury while at home over Christmas and was withdrawn from the Test squad, has returned to grade cricket. If the Sheffield Shield resumes as planned next month it is expected he will have one match for Victoria before the tour departs.
The majority of the 19-man test squad were involved in the India series but Carey now has the chance to firmly establish himself as the eventual successor to Paine.
"When presented with the challenging task of selecting two concurrent Australian men's squads for overseas tours, we picked our first-choice Test squad given the importance of the proposed series against South Africa," Hohns said. "It is testament to the depth of Australian cricket that the NSP has been able to select two Australian men's international squads of such quality."
Ben Oliver, the head of national teams, said: "We do not envisage replicating concurrent Australian men's tours in the future, but we appreciate the need to do so now to assist our friends around the world during this challenging period for international sport and given the additional time requirements of mandatory quarantine periods."
T20I squad Aaron Finch (capt), Matthew Wade (vc), Ashton Agar, Jason Behrendorff, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Ben McDermott, Riley Meredith, Josh Philippe, Jhye Richardson, Kane Richardson, Daniel Sams, Tanveer Sangha, D'Arcy Short, Marcus Stoinis, Ashton Turner, Andrew Tye, Adam Zampa
Test squad Tim Paine (capt), Pat Cummins (vc), Sean Abbott, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Moises Henriques, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Will Pucovski, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Mark Steketee, Mitchell Swepson, David Warner

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo