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Exhausted Test stars finally return home

Selectors will let the dust settle on the shock series loss before turning their attention to the squads for the Tests in South Africa and the T20s in New Zealand to be held concurrently.

Cricket Australia says it wants to honour its obligations in South Africa, which has been hit hard by the pandemic, though the tour has not been signed off.

Mitchell Starc is underwent scans after the series loss to India.

Mitchell Starc is underwent scans after the series loss to India.Credit:Getty Images

Senior assistant coach Andrew McDonald will take the reins for the white-ball series in New Zealand.

Though criticism of the Test side has been fierce after failing to win in Sydney and Brisbane, there is unlikely to be wholesale changes for the three Tests against the Proteas.

Selectors are likely to name an expanded squad of about 18 to enter any hub in South Africa so they have sufficient reserves available in case of injury.

Matthew Wade’s mediocre performances have left his place in jeopardy and though his ability to bat anywhere in the order and take the gloves if Paine is injured help his cause, Alex Carey will need to be phased into the set-up if he is the long-term option behind the stumps.

Will Pucovski, who has been released from his BBL duties with the Melbourne Stars, showed enough on debut to warrant an instant recall if fit.

Of those outside the Test squad, Ben McDermott has claims after impressing for Tasmania and Australia A while Jhye Richardson will push hard for a pace berth.

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Complicating matters for selectors is the need to pick a squad for the T20s leading into a World Cup in India this year.

Selectors will need to weigh up the value in having players such as Moises Henriques and Sean Abbott on reserve in South Africa as opposed to playing in a depleted T20 side in New Zealand.

CA has said priority will be given to the Proteas series as it is on the Future Tours Programme.

The Australians must win the three-game series by 2-0 or better in order to keep alive their goal of reaching the World Test Championship final.

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