Australia's chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns says the underwhelming efforts of wicketkeepers and the panel's belief Tim Paine is the best pure gloveman in the country led to the Tasmanian's recall from the Test wilderness.
Selectors stunned cricket fans on Friday morning with confirmation Paine will take the gloves in the Magellan Ashes despite not being his state’s first-choice wicketkeeper.
The 32-year-old played as a specialist batsman for the Tigers in this week's JLT Sheffield Shield match against Victoria, while he kept for the Cricket Australia XI in their tour match against England last week with incumbent Test keeper Matthew Wade holding the gloves for Tasmania.
Hohns revealed selectors had "shown their hand" with the selection of Paine for the four-day game against Australia's Ashes opponents, though few would have ventured that he would leapfrog both Wade and his predecessor Peter Nevill in the 13-man squad for the first two Tests.
But with neither Wade, Nevill nor any other keeper mounting a strong case for inclusion through three closely-observed Shield rounds, Hohns said Paine's impressive efforts with the gloves in Australia's two most recent T20 series as well as a pair of half-centuries in his two first-class outings this summer got him over the line.
"We had a lengthy debate about the wicketkeeping position," Hohns told reporters on Friday.
"With Tim I think it's been widely acknowledged for a small amount of time now that he is regarded as the best gloveman in the country.
"Add that to the fact he is our T20 wicketkeeper and performs very well there, his batting has been pretty good of late.
"You go to the other side of the coin, the unconvincing performances, in our view, of the other wicketkeeping contenders.
"That's no disrespect to the other wicketkeepers either. There are a couple of quite good young keepers out there that we certainly have our eye on for the future."
Part-time gloveman Cameron Bancroft aside – who has been picked in Australia’s squad as an opener, the role he's performed for his entire 65-match first-class career – no keeper besides Paine passed 50 through three much-scrutinised Shield rounds.
Paine meanwhile struck 52 and 5 against England under lights in Adelaide last week – the venue for the series' first-ever day-night Test from December 2 – before bouncing back from a first-innings duck by posting an unbeaten 71 in Tasmania's second dig against Victoria.
Nevill, tipped by many to regain the spot he lost to Wade in the aftermath of last year's post-Hobart Test purge, managed 80 runs in four innings at 26.66.
Wade, the incumbent whose off-season move home to the Apple Isle meant Paine was without the gloves for the Tigers, fared worse with 38 runs at 7.60 in five hits.
South Australia's Alex Carey, who last season broke the all-time Sheffield Shield record for the most dismissals in a single season with 57 catches and two stumpings, struck 118 runs at a tick under 30 with a best of 46 not out.
While Hohns suggested the panel is also closely watching the progress of other up-and-coming keepers around the country, their collective performances in this season's Sheffield Shield gave the panel little to consider.
Queensland's Jimmy Peirson (42 runs at 8.40 in five innings), Victoria's Sam Harper (28 runs at 7.00 in four hits before being dropped for Seb Gotch), Western Australia's Josh Inglis (16 runs at 8.00 in two innings and is currently nursing a knee injury) have all struggled with the bat.
It makes the setback suffered by Sam Whiteman, who had surgery on a troublesome finger over the off-season and looks likely to miss the entire 2017-18 season, even more painful for the highly-rated Western Australia and recent Australia A gloveman.
Paine's recall after a seven-year, 78-match absence from the Test side also comes with him having taken the gloves just six times over the last two Shield seasons, with youngster Jake Doran preferred for Tasmania's first seven matches of last summer.
But Australia captain Steve Smith believes the experience of Paine, who received his Baggy Green alongside the then leg-spinning allrounder at Lord's in a 2010 Test against Pakistan, will be invaluable for the Ashes.
"I've known Tim for a very long time, in fact we debuted in the same game back in 2010," Smith said of Paine, who has also played 38 international limited-overs matches.
"He's a guy who's got some incredible knowledge of the game, he's got a great presence out on the field and he's a terrific gloveman.
"His inclusion may have come as a bit of a surprise to some people but I'm excited by what he brings to the team and I'm sure he'll do a terrific job for us."
Hohns expressed sympathy for Tasmania's position this season, having dealt with the dual considerations of giving the incumbent Wade a platform to stake his case for Test retention while also wanting to advance the case of Paine.
"(It was) a difficult situation having the incumbent wicketkeeper playing for them," Hohns said.
"I think a couple of weeks ago we'd showed our hand by asking him to play in the CA XI v England in Adelaide.
"From there Tasmania chose him to play as a batsman batting at No.4 for Tasmania in the recent Shield game, I think we all know he made 70 odd not out."
Australia Test squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Cameron Bancroft, Usman Khawaja, Peter Handscomb, Shaun Marsh, Tim Paine (wk), Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood, Jackson Bird, Chadd Sayers.
England Test squad: Joe Root (c), James Anderson (vc), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Jake Ball, Gary Ballance, Stuart Broad, Alastair Cook, Mason Crane, Tom Curran, Ben Foakes, Dawid Malan, Craig Overton, Ben Stokes, Mark Stoneman, James Vince, Chris Woakes.
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
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
T20 trans-Tasman Tri-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 14
Fifth T20I – NZ v Australia, Eden Park, February 16
Sixth T20I – NZ v England, Seddon Park, February 18
Final – TBC, Eden Park, February 21