" --IANS"
Sydney, Nov 18 - Former Australia skipper Ricky Ponting on Saturday threw his weight behind wicketkeeper-batsman Tim Paine, who was recalled to the Test side after a seven-year absence for the opening two Ashes Tests against England.

Ponting, who presented Paine with his Baggy Green in 2010 when he made his Test debut at Lord's against Pakistan, rated the 32-year-old as the best stumper that the Kangaroos have at the moment.

I don't think there's ever been any doubt about his wicketkeeping ability which is the reason why he had never been dropped from the Australian team.

I've said for a long time, that he's clearly the best keeper in the country and over the years we've seen glimpses of how good a batsman he actually is, Ponting was quoted as saying by cricket.com.au.

On Friday, Cricket Australia (CA) selectors picked Paine in the 13-member squad ignoring the duo of Matthew Wade and Peter Nevill.

Ponting felt that Paine's time out of the game may be a blessing in disguise when he makes his Ashes debut in the opener at the Gabba in Brisbane on November 23.

The thing about him is, he hasn't actually played that much cricket because of the injuries he's had. Two whole years off and then the last few years he's been in and out of the state team as well, said Ponting, who led Australia in 77 Tests and four Ashes campaigns.

Without playing much cricket he's always looked after himself exceptionally well. He's always the first one in the gym and he's got a naturally fit and athletic body.

If he can nail some good performances these first few Test matches then that will obviously secure his spot for the rest of this series. Which could then mean he's Australia's gloveman for the next few years, the legendary batsman added.

After playing the opener in Brisbane, Australia will play the tourists in the historic day-night second Ashes Test at the Adelaide Oval from December 2-6.

--IANS

tri/dg


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