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Sayers in Ashes squad as Australia springs selection shocks

Cricket

South Australian Chadd Sayers has rocketed into Ashes calculations, with the Sheffield Shield swing king joining wildcard wicketkeeper Tim Paine and perpetual comeback kid Shaun Marsh in a controversial 13-man squad named this morning.

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Paine has been confirmed as Australia’s ‘keeper for the Ashes opener, nine months after contemplating retirement and seven years after his most recent Test.

He was named as Tasmanian teammate Matthew Wade’s replacement behind the stumps, while Shaun Marsh has been recalled for the eighth time in his career.

Debutant Cameron Bancroft will open in the Gabba clash, starting next Thursday – claiming out-of-form youngster Matthew Renshaw’s place in the side.

Trevor Hohns’ 13-man squad for the first and second Tests against England also features reserve pacemen Jackson Bird and 30-year-old Sayers, whose long-awaited national debut is a chance to come on his home deck, and with the pink ball.

From the incumbent Test XI that defeated Bangladesh by seven wickets, Bancroft, Usman Khawaja, Marsh, Paine, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc are in at the expense of Renshaw, Glenn Maxwell, Hilton Cartwright, Wade, Ashton Agar and Steve O’Keefe.

Paine received the most unexpected of call-ups, with the widespread expectation being Peter Nevill would be given the gig, and the selection was not without its high-profile critics.

“Tim was identified as an international player a long time ago and has always been renowned as a very good gloveman,” Hohns said.

Paine was left out of Tasmania’s Sheffield Shield side earlier this season, with Wade behind the stumps for the state.

The 32-year-old, who has posted one century from 91 first-class games, instead faced England in a tour game at Adelaide Oval then featured in the most recent Shield round as a batsman.

Paine’s four Tests all came in 2010, the same year he suffered a broken finger. It became a recurring injury that required multiple rounds of surgery and threatened to end his career.

Paine recovered but earlier this year contemplated shifting to Melbourne for a job with Kookaburra, having sensed his professional days were numbered after playing three Shield games in 2016-17.

Marsh beat a handful of contenders for the No.6 spot.

“Shaun is playing very well at the moment… he is a versatile player who can slot in anywhere in the batting order,” Hohns said.

The veteran is a much-maligned figure among Australian cricket fans but his recent form, described as career-best by state coach Justin Langer, includes a Shield knock of 91 against the Test attack in Sydney.

Bancroft carried his bat in that same game, scoring a total of 162 runs in his two digs against NSW. He backed it up with an unbeaten 228 against South Australia, all but demanding selection.

“Cameron has been a player of interest to us for some time now, having been unlucky to miss out on the Test tour to Bangladesh that was cancelled in 2015. He is a very talented and tough cricketer,” Hohns said.

“We still view Matthew (Renshaw) as a player of immense talent but he is out of form at the moment and we don’t feel an Ashes Test match is the best place for him to find form.”

Australia XIII: David Warner, Cameron Bancroft, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith (capt), Peter Handscomb, Shaun Marsh, Tim Paine, Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood, Jackson Bird, Chadd Sayers.

-AAP

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