FORMER Australian captain and selector Allan Border has been left mystified by the call-up of Tim Paine as Australia's Test keeper, labelling the selection "bizarre" and "risky."
Paine's selection has split opinion around the country, with Ricky Ponting and Ian Healy both backing the Tasmanian to get the job done in the Ashes and Shane Warne pointing to the call-up as a sign of Australian confusion.
While Border rates Paine highly, he is baffled by how a player who has not kept in the Sheffield Shield this season and spent much of the past two summers on the sidelines could be picked behind the stumps in an Ashes curtain raiser.
"It seems bizarre to me," Border told foxsports.com.au. "That's a real risky selection from the panel. All the keepers around the country will be scratching their head saying 'what the hell is going on?'"
And Border fears what the call-up means for the Sheffield Shield and how it is viewed by selectors.
It cannot bode well for the competition that the eight players states have used behind the stumps thus far this season have all been overlooked for a man whose only recent first-class game with the gloves was in a warm-up match against England.
"The selection bothers me. Where is the Sheffield Shield at right now given there are eight keepers who played over the last three or four weeks for their state sides and a guy who hasn't been keeping at all gets the first Test of the summer?
"He's a good cricketer Tim Paine and I really wish him the best, but it is a strange one."
Paine is one of three big changes made to the Australian Test team, with Shaun Marsh expected to slot in at No.6 and Cameron Bancroft picked to open at the expense of incumbent Matt Renshaw.
Marsh and Bancroft are both selections Border can understand, but having been on the selection panel for seven years he knows Trevor Hohns and his team will be feeling the heat if things go pear-shaped against England.
"On paper it is a very good team but just some of those selections...the selectors will have their fingers and toes and everything crossed going into this Test match because if they don't perform they'll be under so much pressure it wouldn't be funny."
While Border understands why Cameron Bancroft proved so irresistible to selectors, he remains surprised that selectors axed Renshaw given how well he fared across his first 10 Tests. However, he believes the axing could prove a blessing in disguise for the 21-year-old.
"He'll be bitterly disappointed but not many people in Test cricket haven't been dropped at some stage," Border said. "It's always a tough pill to swallow but hopefully like a lot of other very good Australian cricketers he cops it on the chin and becomes a better player as a result."