'Jammed the door open': Legend's big call on Tim Paine replacement

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Pictured left is Alex Carey and Josh Inglis on the right.
Alex Carey and Josh Inglis are considered the frontrunners to replace Tim Paine as Australia's Test wicketkeeper. Pic: Getty

Tim Paine's bombshell call on Friday to step away from all forms of cricket has presented Australian selectors with a big problem: who is going to replace the veteran wicketkeeper behind the stumps for the Ashes?

Paine made the staggering decision to step away from all forms of cricket "for the foreseeable future" in the wake of the sexting scandal that saw him resign as Test skipper last week.

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The 36-year-old had initially made himself available for the Ashes series which gets underway at the Gabba on December 8, however that all changed in an announcement on Friday.

"Confirming that @tdpaine36 is stepping away from cricket for an indefinite mental health break," Paine's manager James Henderson wrote on Twitter.

"We are extremely concerned for his and Bonnie’s well-being and will be making no further comment at this time."

Henderson said he is "extremely concerned" for the wellbeing of the wicketkeeper and his wife Bonnie, who are both having to relive a scandal they thought was put behind them three years ago.

Seen here, former Australia Test captain Tim Paine.
Tim Paine on Friday announced he was stepping away from all forms of cricket. (Image by Mike Egerton/PA Wire).

Hours after Friday's Paine announcement, fast bowler Pat Cummins was confirmed as the country's 47th Test captain, with Steve Smith named his deputy.

That leaves selectors with the biggest question to answer now around who will take Paine's spot as Australia's next wicketkeeper.

Australia's selectors have never been known to take the easy option when it comes to picking wicketkeepers, with the choice of the 34th Test gloveman to replace Paine no different.

Both Alex Carey and Josh Inglis - in the Australia A squad and due to play in an intra-squad game in Brisbane next week - appear to be locked in a two-way battle for the role.

Aussie legends Shane Warne and Ricky Ponting have already given the younger Inglis their backing but Carey has been in and around the national team setup for a number of years now, and is the more experienced of the two.

Healy - who is regarded as one of Australia's best ever wicketkeepers - admits Carey "deserves" a crack but wouldn't be surprised if selectors went with Inglis.

"Carey certainly deserves to have a go, but if George Bailey and his selectors say we will go young and for the future, then it is Josh Inglis or Jimmy Pearson," Healy told SEN.

"But I would say it is Josh Inglis that has absolutely jammed the door open with his foot."

Carey would have every right to feel he deserves the spot, having been seen as Paine's deputy since 2018.

Selectors' dilemma about who replaces Tim Paine

He is tidy enough behind the stumps, had a glorious 2019 one-day World Cup and even captained Australia in ODIs in the West Indies earlier this year.

He was also the back-up 'keeper named for Australia's last Test tour, before the trip to South Africa was called off.

The 30-year-old's first-class average is marginally better than that of Inglis, but last year the 26-year-old averaged 73.12 in the Sheffield Shield as compared to Carey's 59.80.

Inglis also played two county games during the English summer for an average of 42.66, before running rampant in the white-ball formats.

His pick would also not be dissimilar to wicketkeepers who have come before him.

Healy was the most unlikely pick in 1988, as selectors looked to the future ahead of the likes of Wayne Phillips, Tim Zoehrer and Greg Dyer.

The call to bring Adam Gilchrist in 11 years later was equally controversial, if not entirely unexpected.

And more recently there has been no bigger bolt-from-the-blue selection in Australian cricket than Paine's elevation in 2017.

Ready to retire after losing the gloves for Tasmania, Paine was brought back into the Test team off the back of a few warm-up games for a Cricket Australia XI.

with AAP

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