TIM Paine is set to keep for Australia at the Gabba while Matthew Renshaw will make way for Cameron Bancroft, according to reports in Newscorp and Fairfax.
Paine will be named in Australia’s squad for the first two Tests on Friday, having edged out New South Wales’ Peter Nevill and state teammate and Test incumbent Matthew Wade for next week’s Ashes curtain raiser in Brisbane.
The selection of Paine, who played four Tests for Australia in 2010, is a huge surprise considering he has only played one Sheffield Shield match this season. In that match Wade was preferred as keeper.
The 32-year-old scored an unbeaten 71 for Tasmania against Victoria on Wednesday and last week he notched an impressive 52 against England in a tour match at Adelaide Oval.
Although Paine’s average sits at a healthy 35.87 in Test cricket, up until last week he had not passed 50 in a first-class match since the 2013-14 season. It’s as bold a call as selectors have made in a long time.
Nevill was the favourite to replace the under fire Wade at the Gabba, having starred with the bat in the Sheffield Shield last season (611 runs at 68.89) after he himself was axed from the Test side.
However, Nevill’s numbers have been less impressive this season (80 at 26.66) and tellingly he was on the plane home from Brisbane on Thursday after New South Wales’ victory over Queensland.
Renshaw meanwhile has paid the price for a lean run in the Sheffield Shield (70 at 11.66), and reportedly will make way for the in-form Bancroft. The Western Australia opener has been the Shield’s most in-form batsman, with 442 runs to his name at an average of 110.50 and a high score of 228 not out.
In 2015 Bancroft looked destined to win a baggy green when he was called up for a two-Test tour of Bangladesh, only for security concerns to leave him heartbroken. Two years later he is set to finally make his debut.
And Bancroft is not the only WA product in the mix, with Shaun Marsh considered a strong chance to be named at No.6 if selectors abandon plans to pick an all-rounder.
Australia (likely squad): David Warner, Cameron Bancroft, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith, Peter Handscomb, Shaun Marsh, Tim Paine, Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon, Jackson Bird.