'We want the best': Aussie teammate's 'selfish' call on Tim Paine

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From left to right are Australia Test cricket teammates Nathan Lyon, Tim Paine and Pat Cummins.
Nathan Lyon (left) says the world's 'best' keeper Tim Paine (centre) has the full support of Australia's Test squad. Pic: Getty

Spinner Nathan Lyon has given Tim Paine a massive endorsement for the Ashes, as debate continues to swirl around whether selectors should pick the former Test captain in Australia's XI.

Paine's spot for the first Test starting at the Gabba on December 8 has come under scrutiny since he stepped down as skipper last week because of a historical sexting scandal.

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The veteran, who turns 37 when the Ashes begin, is also down on match fitness after only returning to action this week in a Tasmania second XI match.

Before that, Paine had not played in a competitive match since April.

With the likes of Aussie greats Shane Warne and Geoff Lawson leading calls for Paine to be replaced in the Test XI, Lyon has leapt to the defence of the veteran, who he labelled "the best keeper" in the world.

Crucially, Lyon says he "guarantees" the other members of Australia's bowling attack feel the same way.

Pictured here, Tim Paine completes a stumping of Henry Nicholls in Australia's Test against New Zealand.
Tim Paine is regarded by many in Australian cricket as the best wicketkeeper in the country. Pic: Getty

"The selectors said they were going to pick the best available XI. In my eyes, Tim Paine is the best keeper in the world," Lyon said.

"This is very selfish - from a bowler's point of view - I want the best gloveman behind the stumps.

"It's music to my ears (when the ball lands in Paine's gloves).

"Every bowler's relationship with the keeper is exceptional. Tim Paine is a very loveable guy and very well respected.

"I'm pretty sure I'm speaking on behalf of every bowler that we want the best keeper.

"He's got my full support and I 100 per cent guarantee he's got the full support of the Australian change room."

Paine is set to play a one-dayer for Tasmania on Friday before linking up with the Test squad for an intra-squad match in Brisbane, which could be ruined because of rain.

Tim Paine has support of Aussie teammates

Warne has argued the gloveman's time is up and selectors should hand a baggy green to Josh Inglis, while fellow legend and Paine's long-time personal mentor Ricky Ponting has cautioned the saga will prove a distraction for the side.

But players in the current squad have offered strong public and private support of Paine, meaning coach Justin Langer would risk stirring further unease if he were to go against the grain.

There is no indication Langer, who is yet to speak publicly since Paine's bombshell revelation, and fellow selectors are considering such a move.

Lyon, who has formed a key partnership with Paine since the 2017-18 Ashes in Australia, rejected Ponting's claim.

"We're professional athletes, we know what we have to do and how we've got to go about it," the offspinner said.

"Tim made a mistake a few years ago.

"He showed a lot of courage and he's owned that mistake."

Lyon's words come a day after Marnus Labuschagne and Marcus Harris indicated Paine, appointed captain in the aftermath of the 2018 Cape Town cheating scandal, would be welcomed back with open arms.

Paine, who hasn't played a Test since January nor represented his state's first XI since the start of April, was initially expected to miss Friday's clash at Bellerive Oval.

The call-up to a 12-man squad means the Tasmanian is set to play five consecutive days of cricket this week and likely have another chance to bat after scoring one in a low-key return at Lindisfarne.

with AAP

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