England great takes the mickey out of Aussie keeper
THE shock selection of Tim Paine for the Gabba Test has filled English hearts with optimism.
Despite his standing as Tasmania's No.2 keeper behind Matthew Wade, Paine has been recalled to the Test team for the first time in seven years.
It's a selection that former England captain Mike Atherton says points to a deeper issue in Australian cricket.
"The recall of Tim Paine, the wicketkeeper-batsman, seven years after his last Test, shows the level of uncertainty in the home ranks," Atherton wrote in his column for the Times.
Another former England captain, Michael Vaughan, took pleasure from Paine's record with the bat. Up until last week he had not scored a first-class half-century since the 2013-14 season. And the Tasmanian keeper has gone even longer without a ton.
Of course, Paine was not the only surprise selection in the Australian squad, with Shaun Marsh and Cameron Bancroft both named.
The axings of Matthew Renshaw, Matthew Wade and Glenn Maxwell were less of a shock, as all three men were under pressure to fire heading into the Sheffield Shield season.
Nevertheless, the route Trevor Hohns' panel has taken points to the fact that much like England, Australia has holes to fill.
As Atherton put it: "The selectors had three issues to resolve: the opener's position to go alongside David Warner, the No 6 and the wicketkeeper...selectors have announced that they have moved past all three, plumping for a combination of the forgotten, the tried and the untested.
"For all England's issues, these selections indicate that Australia have their difficulties too."
Meanwhile, the Guardian's Will Macpherson believes Joe Root's men will be happy with the make-up of Australia's squad.
"It looked set to be a selection that will please the tourists," Macpherson wrote. "Not only have Australia failed to offer themselves a fifth frontline bowling option - a role played superbly by Shane Watson in the whitewash of 2013-14, allowing Mitchell Johnson to bowl short spells - but the top seven look shaky and untried."