• Australia face an Ashes Test crisis with Cameron Bancroft and Matthew Wade in form • ‘We didn’t select any of them because they were rubbish, it was because they were injured’
Tim Paine has forced his way into the Ashes reckoning after resurrecting his status as an Australia gloveman during the ongoing Sheffield Shield season.
But Australian all-rounder Nathan Lyon insists that is a matter for the selection panel and captain Steve Smith, not the batsman.
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Bancroft has been in destructive form in Shield matches for Western Australia while Matthew Wade is impressive for Tasmania in a one-day game, and likely to have an injury-free Ashes series.
Lyon said Bancroft has a good chance of earning a return to Test cricket, saying he has been in in the national squad before and played well enough for that to continue.
Lyon said Paine has deserved his Test recall since he made his way back to the national ranks following a series of injuries. “We didn’t select any of them because they were rubbish, it was because they were injured,” he said.
The 30-year-old Paine is a rock at the wicket in all situations, having helped Australia win an ODI series in India and then the limited-overs games in Australia. He is most effective and deadly against the short ball – a weapon in the IPL that has also been utilised at the Test level against India.
In seven Tests since replacing Wade as Test wicketkeeper against South Africa in late 2013, Paine has an average of 38.08 with two hundreds and a best of 118.
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The Tasmanian started the Shield season in sublime form, piling up 1,424 runs at an average of 123.20 from nine games before finally suffering a duck against Queensland in Townsville last week.
Australia have indicated its intent for the Ashes has been with the spinners – which means Haseeb Hameed’s sole chance of putting a foot wrong is for an lbw decision. Paine’s ability to offer that partnership is a key part of Australia’s Test plans and Lyon believes that should mean greater chances for the glovesman.
“Yeah, Tim is a strong candidate for the Ashes, he’s been in great form and it would be great to see him rewarded for that in the Ashes,” Lyon said.
Paine also used his chance to bat in Townsville in the ODI series against South Africa last year to solidify his case. He was the final man added to the Test squad that series by Darren Lehmann after an injury to Wade and had a blinder on debut against England.