CAPTAIN Steve Smith has praised the contribution of former Banbury player Tim Paine after Australia convincingly reclaimed the Ashes.

The 32-year-old wicket-keeper batsman, who played for the Home Counties Premier League side in 2015, was a surprise selection ahead of the series.

But skipper Smith believes Paine has justified his place in the team after Australia earned an innings-and-41-run win over England earlier this week to secure a decisive 3-0 lead.

The Tasmanian has 16 dismissals to his name across the three tests, and contributed 130 runs, with an average of 43.

Smith, whose impressive 239 in Perth helped secure the series, was full of praise for Paine.

He told Cricket Australia: “Painey has been mentioned as probably the best keeper in the country for a long period of time, and the way he’s kept has been exceptional.

“And the way he’s batted has been exceptional as well, we’ve had some very valuable runs from him at number seven.”

The fourth test starts on Boxing Day in Melbourne.