Brad Haddin’s recent form meant Australia had no option but to leave him on the sidelines, according to chairman of selectors Rod Marsh.
Ian Healy, Ricky Ponting, Shane Warne and Matthew Hayden all questioned the decision to pick Peter Nevill ahead of Haddin for the third Ashes Test, with Hayden calling it “outrageous”.
Nevill scored 45 and snared seven catches at Lord’s, equalling Brian Taber’s Australian record for most dismissals on Test debut.
Haddin missed the game to spend time with his sick daughter in a London hospital.
“Amazingly hard call,” Marsh said on Wednesday.
“But we have to try and do the best thing for the country and the selection panel believe that was the best thing for the team.
“He’s a fantastic player with a fantastic attitude, but he’s averaging 15 in his last 12 Test matches.
“We needed runs down there.”
Haddin also dropped a crucial catch in the first Test, offering Joe Root a reprieve on zero.
Root went on to score 134, steering England to a 169-run win.
“He didn’t keep well and he’ll admit that at Cardiff,” Marsh said.
“The new boy did very, very well at Lord’s.
“Nevill had such a good game.
“So in my way of thinking, we didn’t have an option.
“It’s very hard to change a winning side.”
Haddin was set to play at Lord’s before withdrawing for family reasons.
“I just thought it’d be automatic he’d play this Test,” Warne told Sky Sports.
“It’s not the right message they’re sending to younger players in that situation.”
It is likely to be the end of Haddin’s international career, unless Nevill is injured in the next four weeks.
The 37-year-old, who has played 66 Tests, retired from one-day cricket earlier this year after helping Australia win the World Cup.
Marsh has a long-standing relationship with Haddin, having mentored him as a teenager at Cricket Australia’s academy in Adelaide.
“I’ve known Brad for a hell of a long time,” said Marsh, who spent 96 Tests behind the stumps for Australia.
“He’s a fantastic player with a fantastic attitude.”
Haddin has a strong record against England, having averaged 41.39 from 20 Tests.
He consistently rescued Australia with the bat in the 2013-14 Ashes, scoring 493 runs to break the record for most runs by a No.7 batsman in any Test series.
However, since that series, Haddin has averaged 15.23 and managed only one half-century in 12 Tests.