Perth: Australia coach Darren Lehmann warned his wounded squad “every spot is under pressure” for the second Test this weekend after their capitulation to South Africa in Perth.
The Proteas won the opening Test by 177 runs after poor batting and string of dropped catches consigned Australia to a fourth successive Test defeat. They lost all three Tests on their July-August tour of Sri Lanka.
Opener Shaun Marsh has already been ruled out of the second Test in Hobart from Saturday with a broken finger, with Joe Burns expected to take his place.
The uncapped Callum Ferguson has also been drafted into the squad with Adam Voges under an injury cloud, while paceman Joe Mennie, 12th man in Perth, could get his chance with Peter Siddle struggling with a sore back.
Depending on the Hobart conditions, spinner Nathan Lyon could be a casualty after he failed to take a wicket in South Africa’s second innings at a cost of 146 runs.
“I would say every spot is under pressure,” said Lehmann, who is aware that the last time Australia lost four in a row, then coach Mickey Arthur got the chop.
“That’s the nature of the beast if you don’t have success,” he added.
Captain Steve Smith is also under heavy scrutiny with Australian media blasting the team as a shadow of its former self with the skipper taking plenty of flak.
The Sydney Morning Herald Tuesday trumpeted “Un-Australian: Sorry decline of Smith’s team is shocking”, while The Australian broadsheet said: “Hot breath of discontent on captain Smith’s neck.”
“Darren Lehmann and Steve Smith are now under unprecedented pressure as the heads of Australian cricket following the humilation at the WACA,” said Sydney’s Daily Telegraph cricket writer Ben Horne.
“Australia have now slumped to four straight Test defeats and history suggests that when the Test side has entered this kind of losing red zone in the past, the men in charge cop the full extent of the fallout.”
Both teams are nursing some tired bowlers, with Australia’s Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Siddle and Mitchell Marsh all “pretty sore”.
“I would imagine the South African boys would be the two bowlers that bowled the whole game for them (Kagiso Rabada and Vernon Philander),” said Lehmann.
“All bowlers are going to be pretty sore and tight. We’ll just have to see how they pull up and make a call from there. They (South Africa) will have the same issues.”
The South Africans have called up uncapped all-rounder Dwaine Pretorius for the final two Tests as cover for injured strike bowler Dale Steyn.
Steyn is set to spend at least six months on the sidelines after breaking his shoulder while bowling in Perth.