Australia’s Ashes Test squad was announced on Friday morning with multiple odd choices and selections that left former players and pundits scratching their heads. Among the changes, Tim Paine has been recalled for the first time in seven years ahead of the likes of Peter Nevill and Matthew Wade; Shaun Marsh has been called-up for eighth time since making his Test debut in 2011; Matt Renshaw has had to concede his opening slot to Cameron Bancroft and in the final twist, Chadd Sayers has come into the 13-man squad. In effect, from the squad that played in Bangladesh, only captain Steve Smith, David Warner, Peter Handscomb, Pat Cummins and Nathan Lyon have been retained.
Most of the former cricketers and pundits alike have slammed the selectors for an obscure selection policy. None have been more damning than former spinner Stuart MacGill who has questioned the non-selection of Nevill. He declared that Paine’s selection ahead of Nevill should be the end of the road for the selectors. Nevill was removed, rather controversially from the role a year back, but had recently found support from Adam Gilchrist, Steve Waugh and legendary keeper Ian Healy.
Shane Warne said that Australia “look confused.” “Australia looks confused,” Warne said at the Nine Network’s season launch in Sydney. “They’re picking wicketkeepers [Paine] that aren’t even keeping for their state. To me, I think England are in a better situation going into that first Test than Australia are. They don’t fear Australia anymore. [They] haven’t for a long time and hence that’s why they can beat Australia.”
In multiple tweets he wrote, “How about we pick a player who can do the job he’s selected for. Forget Ferry McFerryface, let’s vote on the idiots that pick the Australian cricket team. If Nevill isn’t being selected because he doesn’t score enough runs then perhaps the Australian captain should remember the day he was first selected for an Ashes series.”
Bizarrely, Paine has not found a first-team place for his domestic side Tasmania in the Sheffield Shield but was included in the tour game representing Cricket Australia XI against England in Adelaide. There he scored a fifty to get his name on the board. It can’t be ignored that he has just one first-class century in 91 matches and that came back in October 2006.