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Maddinson facing axe, Cartwright called up

AAP logoAAP 20/12/2016 Rob Forsaith and Roger Vaughan

Selectors know Nic Maddinson deserves more time to prove he belongs at Test level, but the axe is nonetheless poised to fall after Hilton Cartwright's shock call-up.

Cartwright is on the cusp of debuting in the Boxing Day Test against Pakistan, having been added to what is now a 13-man squad as Australia continues their search for a game-breaking allrounder.

Cartwright's promotion has more to do with a bowling attack that toiled for 145 overs in the final innings of the first Test against Pakistan than it does Maddinson's recent unconvincing knocks of zero, one and four.

Australia haven't spent so long in the field during the fourth innings of a Test since the infamous 2012 draw at Adelaide Oval, when Peter Siddle bowled himself to breaking point against South Africa.

"Although everyone has pulled up OK, on reflection we wanted to give ourselves the option of including an allrounder in Melbourne to ease that workload," chief selector Trevor Hohns said.

Mitch Marsh was expected to get the nod but instead it went to his Western Australia teammate, who is 24 and has only played 16 first-class games.

The Zimbabwe-born Cartwright averaged 74.75 with the ball and 36.6 with the bat in the first half of the Sheffield Shield season, no doubt wishing those numbers were reversed.

"We have seen plenty of him ... if called upon he will do an excellent job," Hohns said.

Hohns, promoted to interim chairman of selectors following Rod Marsh's resignation and some five Test losses, called for patience a month ago after making five changes to the XI.

That patience has already been tested by Maddinson, despite Australia logging day-night Test wins over South Africa and Pakistan since the overhaul.

Darren Lehmann, who has long been a fan of having an allrounder in his XI, is rightly worried about the prospect of cooking star pacemen Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood.

Starc and Hazlewood sent down a total of 112 overs at the Gabba, with the bulk of them coming on day four when Pakistan showed superb resistance. It made the absence of an allrounder all the more glaring.

"You would probably have liked to have an extra bowling option," Lehmann said after Australia took a 1-0 lead in the three-Test series.

However, Lehmann added the thinking was Maddinson deserved more time to prosper.

"Very much so ... he's a fine player. He's just got to believe at this level," Lehmann said.

"We've got some red-ball cricket coming up, so I'm sure he'll do OK.

A Test tour of India in February will be another factor in whether Maddinson or Cartwright is given the nod.

"You're always looking ahead as selectors, to try and get what side you would like to tour," Lehmann said.

"But we've got to play well in Melbourne to try to clinch this series, then we can worry about other things."

Peter Handscomb, who received his baggy green at the same time as Maddinson, felt for his under-pressure teammate.

"It's not like he's out of form at all - he's hitting them unbelievably well in the nets and if he gets his opportunity in the Boxing Day Test, I see no reason why he won't be making plenty of runs," Handscomb said.

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