Winners and losers out of Aussie Ashes shocks
AUSTRALIA has announced its squad for the first two Ashes Tests, sending a few shockwaves through the cricket community with a handful of stunning selections.
Wednesday's meeting between the four selectors put forward the remarkable Test recalls of wicketkeeper Tim Paine and ageing batsman Shaun Marsh.
But it also meant difficult phone calls had to be made to the Test incumbents who were making way.
And then there's NSW's Peter Nevill, the overwhelming favourite to grab the Test gloves a week ago who may not have even received a phone call at all...
Here's our winners and losers from Friday's Ashes squad announcement.
Tim Paine can be considered one of the unluckiest Australian cricketers of the past ten years - if not for an untimely broken finger in a charity game in 2010, when he played all four of his Tests prior, he may never have lost his grip on a Test spot.
But today, he's won the lotto and is the biggest winner of the lot having been given a chance to revive his Test career despite keeping wicket in Shield cricket just three times in the past two summers.
Paine has scored just one first-class century in his career and that came 11 years ago.
As was pointed out on Twitter on Thursday night when it became apparent Paine was on the verge of a call-up, Australia's 47-year-old head coach Darren Lehmann has scored a first-class century more recently than its new wicketkeeper.
But as the country's silkiest gloveman, Paine won over selectors who have laboured through two tours in Asia with the less assured Matthew Wade as wicketkeeper.
That alone makes him the biggest winner out of Friday's announcement.
Shaun Marsh is the cat disguised as an Australian Test cricketer, because for the ninth time in his career he has been called into the Test fold. It should be said that stints one and two were separated by injury.
The 34-year-old's number looked to be up when he was left off Cricket Australia's list of contracted players in April and then snubbed for the two-Test tour of Bangladesh. Now he finds himself in line to bat at No.6 at the Gabba in the biggest series in Australian cricket.
It's a somewhat surprising selection considering his modest start to the Sheffield Shield season - 236 runs at 39.33, three fifties in six innings - and his even humbler Test average of 36.00. Still, the oft-maligned left-hander has proven himself capable of performing at the highest level before, with four Test centuries to his name.
He will be looking to banish the memories of his one and only Ashes encounter to date. Selected to play at Trent Bridge, in a move selectors hoped would shore up the batting order, Marsh made scores of 0 and 2 and Australia crumbled to 60 all out.
In the end it was weight of runs that forced the selectors' hands into picking the 24-year-old top-order specialist.
Bancroft was luckless not to make his Test debut two years ago when he was picked for the tour of Bangladesh, which was subsequently cancelled due to safety concerns.
His selection that time was on the back of an 896-run Sheffield Shield season in which he averaged 47.15. He remained on the national radar and ultimately won the race to be David Warner's Ashes opening partner with another bucketload of runs for Western Australia in the opening rounds of this Shield season.
In the past month he's returned first-class scores of 76 not out, 86, and 228 not out. On form he might be the best batsman in Australia.
Considering he was the last of the quicks picked, you would think it would take a fitness concern in the squad for Chadd Sayers to finally get his hands on a baggy green. However, he may not be as far off selection as it appears.
With only four days separating the end of the Gabba Test and the start of the Adelaide Test, there's every chance Sayers could be called into the action. After all, Australia is all but certain to go into the Gabba Test with just the four bowlers. Workload management is certain to come up, especially with Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood only recently returning from injury. And before this year Pat Cummins hadn't managed to play back-to-back Tests.
If one of the front three is rested for the day-night Test, Sayers has to be favourite to play having made the pink ball sing under lights at Adelaide Oval against New South Wales a fortnight ago.
Chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns said as much in a media release on Friday: "Chadd's inclusion in the squad is with a view to the Adelaide Test and the conditions that we may see there.
"He swings the ball with good control and knows the conditions well at his home ground.
"He gives us this bowling option if required."
If he does get a game it will be well earned reward for a first-class career that has seen him take 243 wicket at 23.55.
By opting against picking an all-rounder selectors have put their full faith in the world class bowling quartet of Starc, Hazlewood, Cummins and Nathan Lyon to not only get the job done but get the job done quickly.
From an English point of view there's two ways to look at it. One is that there will be no reprieve from bowling of the highest quality, with no medium-pace trundler for Steve Smith to turn to for the odd over or two. The other, is that Alastair Cook and Joe Root will get the chance to grind Australia's most prized assets into the ground.
Time will tell how smart a gamble this is.
Understandably upset at being dumped from the Australian team after just ten Tests, Renshaw is perhaps the unluckiest loser of all.
While admittedly desperately out of form, the 21-year-old is regarded as the future of the team and a long-term option at the top of the order.
Which is what makes this selection so tough. Renshaw burst into the team last summer with a refreshing application to the art of opening - with an old-school approach and a desire to protect his teammates from the new ball.
His last Test innings on Australian soil was a majestic 184 against Pakistan and he handled himself well on tough tours of India and Bangladesh.
But his domestic form this summer ensured the axe hovered - six knocks, 70 runs and not a single score of 20 or more.
The future remains bright for Renshaw, but the Ashes would've been extra special for the Yorkshire-born Queenslander - making his omission the hardest of all.
His lack of mongrel - along with some so-so form with the willow - cost him his Test spot after the Hobart match last year and he's failed to force his way back into the side.
Tim Paine may be considered the best gloveman in Australia but Nevill isn't far behind, and still averages 39.85 with the bat in first-class cricket.
But he hasn't scored more than 32 runs in an innings for NSW so far this Shield season, and obviously selectors have more faith in Paine behind the stumps.
Nevill is only 32 years old but time is running out for him to build on his 17-Test career.
Maxi, Maxi, Maxi. It just isn't meant to be.
The man Shane Warne wants in the side as 'the x-factor' has been omitted from a home series once again.
Maxwell has played the past four Tests for Australia - a run which included his breakthrough century against India in Ranchi, a knock that was meant to have assured him first crack at the Ashes.
He scored a pair of 60s against South Australia in the second round of the Sheffield Shield, with selectors watching on.
He's capable of chipping in with valuable overs of off-spin and is a world-class fieldsman - anyway you look at it, he mounts a compelling case for selection.
But he just can't find a way in.
The theory goes that if you're picked to debut in the final Test of a home summer, you're nailed on to play in the first Test of the next one.
So said former Test captain Ricky Ponting, at least. But Hilton Cartwright, who debuted at the SCG against Pakistan in January, has bucked that trend.
The broadly built all-rounder, who boasts a first-class average of 46.51 and two Test caps, is a favourite of selectors owing to his rugged batting style and ability to contribute handy overs and give the frontline quicks a break.
Based on that alone he can consider himself unlucky.
But underwhelming returns with the bat over the first three rounds of the Shield season - notching just one half-century and critically falling for a pair against the star-studded NSW attack - saw him fall off selectors' radars.
At 25, and with the gifts the Australian selectors crave, he's certain to be back in the Test frame at some point.
A string of average performances has finally caught up to Australia's newest attack dog.
Wade was never considered a great gloveman, but it was his ability with the bat and aggressiveness in the field that earned him a Test recall for the Adelaide match last year.
In Australia's 10 Tests since then, Wade hasn't scored more than 82 runs in a match and his highest innings score is 57 against India in March. He was lucky not to be dropped in Bangladesh, when selectors were considering using Peter Handscomb behind the stumps.
His form at Shield level in recent weeks has been very average.
His glove work has also left many frustrated. A sharp tongue isn't enough to justify keeping Wade in the side for the Ashes.
Still, he's only 29 years old and hasn't dropped too far down the pecking order just yet.