House of Paine: Huge nod for recalled Aussie keeper
CRICKET: Tim Paine is set to be named as Australia's wicketkeeper for the ODI series against England following the Ashes, which will make him the gloveman for his country in all three formats and put him firmly in the World Cup frame.
Selectors will announce that Paine has been handed the gloves when announcing an initial ODI squad on Wednesday for the five-match series that begins at the MCG on January 14.
Matthew Wade, who lost his Australian spot to Paine for the Ashes, will again be the player to make way as Australia looks to settle on its team 18 months out from the World Cup.
Paine was a shock selection for the Ashes ahead of Wade but he has gone to reward the selectors' faith in him with some slick displays behind the stumps in the first four Tests.
Paine is already the incumbent Twenty20 wicketkeeper for Australia, so his elevation to 50-over gloveman will install him as his nation's No. 1 option in all three formats.
He played the last of his 26 ODIs for Australia more than six years ago and will have seen off the challenge of Alex Carey and Wade, whose international future looks in severe doubt.
Paine was missing as Australia prepared for the fifth Ashes Test at the SCG on Tuesday because he was attending the funeral of his father-in-law Thomas Maggs, who suffered a stroke on Christmas Eve.
Australia has slipped to third in the ICC's ODI rankings behind South Africa and India after losing their last series 4-1 to the Indians in September and October. But the reigning world champions have at least one eye on preparing for the World Cup in 2019 in England.
However, also complicating matters for the selectors is the four-Test series against South Africa from March 1 and a desire to ensure their pace bowling cartel is fit for that campaign.
Mitchell Starc missed the Boxing Day Test due to a bruised heel and is in severe doubt for the SCG match.
He may be rested for the ODI series against England, with Australia's fortunes largely dependent on Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood to lead the attack.