Out-of-favour Tasmanian 'keeper tipped for surprise Test call-up to take on England
Paine set for shock Ashes recall
Tim Paine is set to earn a stunning recall to Australia's Test side for the Magellan Ashes series in place of state teammate Matthew Wade.
Cricket.com.au believes the National Selection Panel will overlook Wade and NSW gloveman Peter Nevill in favour of Paine, who played the last of his four Tests more than seven years ago.
The bombshell announcement is expected to be confirmed when the full squad is officially announced by Cricket Australia on Friday morning.
A Fairfax Media report on Thursday night claimed that in addition to Paine's recall, veteran batsman Shaun Marsh was also set to earn a call-up along with uncapped Western Australia opener Cameron Bancroft. That report claims Bancroft will open in place of Matthew Renshaw.
Paine's recall would represent a stunning turnaround in fortunes having been on the verge of retiring from first-class cricket earlier this year. The 32-year-old was set to move to Melbourne to take up a job with cricket manufacturer Kookaburra before a surprise contract extension with Tasmania gave him a lifeline.
Despite having not taken the gloves for Tasmania this season, Paine is still regarded as one of the best glovemen in the country and has posted two first-class half-centuries in the past week; a score of 52 for a Cricket Australia XI against England last week and an unbeaten 71 against Victoria on Wednesday.
Paine stood at first slip alongside Wade for much of Tasmania's game at the MCG this week, but his skills behind the stumps remain highly rated.
"His glovework is very good," said former Test quick Ryan Harris, who watched Paine up close in his role as the CA XI coach, said last week. "If he gets some runs, you just don't know.
"Without a keeper jumping out making runs, you've obviously got to pick your best gloveman. I'm interested to see who they pick in that space."
Paine's recent return to Australia's T20 squad, and his clean work behind the stumps on the recent tour of India, proves he has remained in the thoughts of selectors despite falling down the pecking order at state level.
While Wade has been unable to fire with the bat at the start JLT Sheffield Shield season, he pointed out on Thursday that both Nevill and South Australian youngster Alex Carey have also been unable to post big scores for their respective states.
And while part-time keeper Bancroft has been in red-hot form with the bat, Paine is the only full-time gloveman to have posted a first-class half-century so far this summer.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday evening, Wade said he was in the dark about whether or not he had lost his spot.Image Id: 452C1DF318B34E19978D65FE0B411733 Image Caption: Paine captained the CA XI against England in Adelaide // Getty
And the fact he overlooked Paine in his assessment of his main rivals indicates he would have been as shocked as anyone that his state teammate was the one who had earned the call-up.
"If they're talking about changing the keeper, Bancroft has been the only one who has put weight of runs on the board," Wade told reporters in Melbourne.
"Apart from that, there hasn't been too much else ... I haven't really seen anyone around the country really throwing their hand up and saying 'it's my spot'."
Paine, who recently became a father for the first time, conceded in February that he'd feared his first-class career could be over having dropped out of Tassie's Shield side.
But the departure of coach Dan Marsh at the end of last season led to a lifeline in the form of a new contract.
"I was looking to probably retire," he said last month. "It's turned around really quickly and I'm very grateful that it has."
Bancroft, meanwhile, could become Australia's 451st Test player should he displace Renshaw as reported. The Queensland left-hander has managed 70 runs in six hits for the Bulls so far this summer.
If Tim Paine makes a comeback in Brisbane, he will equal the Australian record of missing most games between two Test appearances currently held by Brad Hogg who missed 78 Tests between 1996 and 2003. #Ashes pic.twitter.com/GRHi2fbV1H— Mazher Arshad (@MazherArshad) November 16, 2017
Bancroft struck twin half-centuries against a full-strength NSW attack and a marathon double-century against South Australia this week having taking the wicketkeeping gloves during both matches.
The 24-year-old right-hander already with 65 first-class games under his belt said last week he'd perform any role that is asked of him, and has made a strong case for selection during three of the most scrutinised Shield rounds in recent decades.
2017-18 International Fixtures:
Magellan Ashes Series
First Test Gabba, November 23-27. Buy tickets
Second Test Adelaide Oval, December 2-6 (Day-Night). Buy tickets
Third Test WACA Ground, December 14-18. Buy tickets
Fourth Test MCG, December 26-30. Buy tickets
Fifth Test SCG, January 4-8 (Pink Test). Buy tickets
Gillette ODI Series v England
First ODI MCG, January 14. Buy tickets
Second ODI Gabba, January 19. Buy tickets
Third ODI SCG, January 21. Buy tickets
Fourth ODI Adelaide Oval, January 26. Buy tickets
Fifth ODI Perth TBC, January 28. Join the ACF
Prime Minister's XI
PM's XI v England Manuka Oval, February 2. Buy tickets
Gillette T20 INTL Series
First T20I Australia v NZ, SCG, February 3. Buy tickets
Second T20I – Australia v England, Blundstone Arena, February 7. Buy tickets
Third T20I – Australia v England, MCG, February 10. Buy tickets
Fourth T20I – NZ v England, Wellington, February 13
Fifth T20I – NZ v Australia, Eden Park, February 16
Sixth T20I – NZ v England, Seddon Park, February 18
Final – TBC, Eden Park, February 21