Australia had endured a turbulent summer during the 1984-85 season, which included the resignation of their captain Kim Hughes and consistent defeats at the hands of the West Indian cricket side. However, there were some encouraging signs, such as the consistent form of Kepler Wessels, the re-emergence of Andrew Hilditch as a test batsman, the discovery of an exciting new pace prospect in Craig McDermott and improved spin bowling stocks, led by Bob Holland.
However it was revealed prior to leaving for England that several of the cricketers had signed to play cricket in South Africa over the 1985-85 and 1986-87 seasons, including Alderman, Wellham, Wood, McCurdy, Phillips, Bennett and Rixon. Wellham, Phillips and Wood were all offered inducements by Kerry Packer, who owned TV rights to the game, not to go to South Africa, and Bennett changed his mind. Alderman, McCurdy and Rixon stuck by their original decisions, and were ruled ineligible to tour. They were replaced by Carl Rackemann, John Maguire and Ray Phillips. Then Rackemann and McGuire revealed they too had signed to tour South Africa and were replaced by David Gilbert and Jeff Thomson. The remaining Australian team originally elected to not tour with Wood, Phillips and Wood but eventually changed their mind.