MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australia appear confused by picking wicketkeeper Tim Paine for the Ashes squad against England as he is not even the first choice selection for his state side, retired leg-spinning great Shane Warne said on Friday.
The 32-year-old Paine, who played the last of his four tests in October 2010, got the nod ahead of out-of-form Matthew Wade and contender Peter Nevill for a spot in a 13-man squad for the opening two tests.
Paine has been behind Wade for Tasmania but was included in Steve Smith’s side, with Australia selection chief Trevor Hohns calling him the best wicketkeeper in the country.
“England at the moment are just going along nicely,” Australian Warne, the second highest wicket-taker in test cricket, told reporters in Sydney on Friday.
”They’re just doing their business.
“Australia look confused. They’re picking wicketkeepers that aren’t even keeping for their state. To me, I think England are in a better situation going into that first test than what Australia are.”
The first of the five-test Ashes will be played at the Gabba in Brisbane from Thursday and the series would be closely fought, according to Warne, who took 708 wickets in 145 tests in a career spanning 15 years.
”Being at home, you think that Australia have an advantage,“ Warne added. ”But I think this will be a super close series.
“It comes down to the bowling mainly. I think Australia’s bowlers are excellent.”
Paine scored a half-century against England and kept for the Cricket Australia XI in the tour match in Adelaide. He also scored an unbeaten 71 against Victoria in the Sheffield Shield this week playing as a frontline batsman.
Former Australia captain Mark Taylor congratulated Australia’s selection panel for picking in-form players.
“I think they’ve had Tim Paine higher on the pecking order than a lot of us did, and they’ve made a couple of form selections which I think are bold selections and good ones,” Taylor told Cricket Australia’s website (cricket.com.au).
“I think they’ve made some tough decisions, bold ones, up front. They’ve said this is the side we believe is the most in-form side to beat England and we’re going to pick it.”
Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; Editing by John O'Brien