SHOCK Ashes selection Tim Paine has declared he is ready to carve out the international career he appeared destined for before a crippling finger injury pushed him to the point of retirement.
Two weeks after being overlooked for Tasmania's Sheffield Shield team, Paine was today confirmed as the bolter in Australia's 13-man squad for the first two Tests against England, the first which starts at the Gabba next Thursday.
He replaces state teammate Matthew Wade, who was axed for a lack of runs, while Peter Nevill was also overlooked after failing to impress with the bat in the first three Shield games.
It completes a remarkable journey which seven years ago had Paine touted as a future Test captain before a broken finger in an ACA All-Stars match - and seven subsequent surgeries later - had him on the brink of quitting.
Continually overlooked for the Tigers at the beginning of 2016-17, Paine's papers appeared stamped and he was on the verge of accepting a job with Kookaburra in Melbourne at the end of last season.
However he was recalled to the Australian Twenty20 side at the end of the summer following consistent form in the BBL, before being told he was a required player by new Tasmanian coach Adam Griffith.
A solid half century against England for the CXI last week in Adelaide put the 32-year-old back in the selection frame as a dark horse, before he sealed his spot with an unbeaten second innings 71 against Victoria on Wednesday on his recall to the Shield side.
"It has been a hard road to get back here and I'm extremely proud about the way I have gone about things in the last five or six years," Paine said.
"I feel like I am more ready now than I was when I played [in 2010], I'm more mature, I know my game a bit better.
"I have always stated I feel my wicket keeping is as good as anyone, and it seems that is the way they [the selectors] have gone.
"Seven years ago I was playing Test and One Day cricket and I always dreamt - and it was probably a bit of dream to be honest - that I could get back there.
"Very close [to retiring], I had pretty much accepted to take a job in Kookaburra and we were going to move over. I'm pretty happy right now I didn't.
"To have this opportunity is amazing ... it's now back in my hands which is a great feeling."
While the rise of Paine to the No. 1 gloveman in the country has surprised some, given he was standing in the slips for Tasmania at the MCG this week, the man himself dismissed concerns of being underdone.
"I was in the last Twenty20 side for Australia, so it's not as if I haven't been wicket keeping. I keep every day of my life.
"I'm as ready as I'll ever be with the gloves and I am just rapt to have the opportunity.
"For an Australian, it is probably the biggest series in cricket and to be here in Australia is even better.
"I made my Test debut seven years ago, but I feel like I am about make my Test debut again."
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.