Paine could keep for Australia in all three formats

Ronan O'Connell Columnist

By Ronan O'Connell, Ronan O'Connell is a Roar Expert

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    After being on the verge of retirement just nine months ago, Tim Paine now is a chance of nailing down Australia’s wicketkeeping spot in all three formats.

    It’s been an extraordinary turnaround for the 32-year-old.

    Paine is the incumbent in the Test and Twenty20 teams, yet the 50-over format has long been his strongest.

    With Matthew Wade having averaged just eight with the bat from his past ten ODIs, the selectors surely will move in a new direction for this month’s five-match ODI series against England.

    Victorian Peter Handscomb should contend strongly for that ODI keeping position, having kept for Australia three times last year in 50-over cricket – twice in New Zealand and once in India.

    Handscomb, who has averaged 50 with the bat in the 27 List A matches he’s played as a wicketkeeper, told media last week he wants to be Australia’s first-choice ODI gloveman.

    The Australian selectors may also consider SA ‘keeper Alex Carey and Test opener Cameron Bancroft. Carey is a slick gloveman, has a reasonable List A batting average of 30, and started the Big Bash League in hot batting form with scores of 44 and 83no.

    Bancroft, meanwhile, was outstanding for WA in the recent domestic One Day Cup, keeping neatly and hitting 265 runs at an average of 53 with a blazing strike rate of 104.

    Then there’s Paine, who only played one game for Tasmania in that tournament as the keeping duties were instead handled by Wade and Ben Dunk.

    At that stage, Paine’s cricketing career was in a dire state. He could not get a game for Tasmania in either 50-over cricket or first-class cricket, with the Tigers overlooking him for their first four Shield games.

    Paine must have been wondering if he would have been better off retiring, something he admitted he strongly considered at the end of the last Australian season.

    Then, from nowhere, Paine was vaulted into Australia’s Ashes line-up. It was a left-field selection which prompted widespread shock and criticism.

    Australian wicket keeper Tim Paine is seen on Day 3 of the First Test match between Australia and England at the Gabba in Brisbane, Saturday, November 25, 2017.

    (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

    While I still find it hard to believe the Australian selectors chose a wicketkeeper who had struggled for two seasons to get a game for the weak Tasmanian side, their decision looks like a masterstroke right now.

    Paine has been brilliant in this Ashes. His glovework has ranged from solid to sensational, maintaining a standard which Australia have not seen from their Test wicketkeeper since Adam Gilchrist retired ten years ago.

    Paine has been clinical when standing up to the stumps for spin, and nimble and clean to the quicks.

    His glovework, so far, has been even better than that of Peter Nevill, who did a good job behind the stumps during his 17 Tests. It was lack of runs which led to the axing of Nevill and of his successor Wade.

    Despite having averaged just 19 with the bat from his previous four first-class seasons when he was called up to the Test team, Paine has been in wonderful touch with the blade. His opportunities have been limited, having only batted five times, but he’s compiled 154 runs at 38.

    In each of those five knocks Paine has looked terrific from the start of his innings – sturdy in defence and quick to seize upon scoring opportunities. Whether he has been behind or in front of the stumps, Paine has seemed completely at home in this high-profile series.

    The selectors deserve generous praise for the chances they took in picking Paine and Shaun Marsh, who also has had a wonderful Ashes. Suddenly Paine looks capable of holding down the Test keeping spot for the next two to three years.

    This would be the perfect scenario for Australia, giving time for 26-year-old Carey to develop further and for the best young keeper-batsman in the country, WA’s Sam Whiteman, to hopefully shake off his persistent injury problems.

    In the meantime, Paine could well find himself in the ODI team, with an opportunity to cement his position and make a run at the World Cup in England in 18 months from now. The Tasmanian must be pinching himself – his career is unrecognisable from just six weeks ago.

    Ronan O
    Ronan O'Connell

    Ronan O'Connell has been a journalist for well over 13 years, including nine at daily newspapers in WA. He now traverses the world as a travel photojournalist, contributing words and photography to more than 30 magazines and newspapers including CNN, BBC, The Toronto Star, The Guardian, The South China Morning Post, The Irish Examiner and The Australian Financial Review. Check out his work and follow him on Twitter @ronanoco

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    The Crowd Says (18)

    • January 2nd 2018 @ 5:21am
      Linphoma said | January 2nd 2018 @ 5:21am | ! Report

      The only perspective to think about is the workload I guess.

    • Roar Guru

      January 2nd 2018 @ 6:55am
      Ryan H said | January 2nd 2018 @ 6:55am | ! Report

      He was Australia’s recent T20I keeper also; so he has already been the best performing keeper of the last 12 months in two out of three formats. I feel they might give the gloves to Bancroft for the ODIs or Carey given his form, but I see no reason why Paine can’t do this either, he is arguably a far better batsman in the short form – irrespective of his solid Ashes batting.

    • January 2nd 2018 @ 9:23am
      paul said | January 2nd 2018 @ 9:23am | ! Report

      I assume Paine would have to be considered a “risk” in the same way the quicks are. That is, should he play in every game he can, risk injury and not be available for the tour of Sth Africa?

      You’ve pointed out how many very good keeping options are available for the upcoming ODI series. In reality, these are relatively meaningless, ie they’re not the Champions Trophy or the World Cup, so I’d rest Paine, bearing in mind he had a severe hand injury not so long ago.

    • January 2nd 2018 @ 10:29am
      Art said | January 2nd 2018 @ 10:29am | ! Report

      Anyone but the flog Matty wade.

      • January 2nd 2018 @ 2:03pm
        jameswm said | January 2nd 2018 @ 2:03pm | ! Report

        esp after that unnecessary send off

        • Roar Guru

          January 2nd 2018 @ 2:12pm
          Ryan H said | January 2nd 2018 @ 2:12pm | ! Report

          I hope Buttler said to him, ‘Thanks Matt, see you in the One Day ser…oh wait’

    • January 2nd 2018 @ 11:59am
      BurgyGreen said | January 2nd 2018 @ 11:59am | ! Report

      I’d be picking Bancroft in the ODIs. Paine is a solid top three batsman in List A cricket but probably doesn’t have the gears to accelerate in the late overs, and we need our keeper to bat at 7 at the moment. Picking Bancroft also keeps him in the setup and hopefully helps him build confidence at international level after a tough first Test series.

      1. Warner
      2. Finch
      3. Smith
      4. S. Marsh
      5. Stoinis (deserves a promotion)
      6. M. Marsh
      7. Bancroft
      8. Faulkner
      9. Zampa
      10. K. Richardson
      11. Stanlake

      The bowling attack is absolute trash, but that’s how it is if we want to rest the big quicks.

      • Columnist

        January 2nd 2018 @ 1:31pm
        Ronan O'Connell said | January 2nd 2018 @ 1:31pm | ! Report

        Burgy it’s very harsh to drop Head when he averaged 47 with the bat in ODIs in 2017. Head was Australia’s 2nd-highest runmaker in ODIs for the year, after Warner, and had a better average than Smith.

        Although Shaun Marsh is an exceptional 50-over batsman who is in cracking form.

        If Bancroft or Handscomb got the gloves I’d put them at 6 in between Mitch Marsh and Stoinis to add some cement to that middle order, which has been Australia’s weak point for a while now.

        I’d also like to see Australia be a bit more flexible with their middle order – if they’re cruising at 3-200 then send in MMarsh to have a dash, but if they’re 3-60 then promote Handscomb to right the ship.

      • January 2nd 2018 @ 2:18pm
        dan ced said | January 2nd 2018 @ 2:18pm | ! Report

        Warner, Klinger, Smith, Head, Stoinis, M.Marsh, Carey, Neser, Ahmed, Tremain, Stanlake

        Finch not in form, Neser lookin’ good in all formats, Tremain bats better than Richo, Klinger dominates all formats. Ahmed lookin’ crafty again, Zampa’s darts better suited to T20 even though I love his competitiveness and variety.

        • Columnist

          January 2nd 2018 @ 2:33pm
          Ronan O'Connell said | January 2nd 2018 @ 2:33pm | ! Report

          Dan I gotta say that attack is awfully weak, England’s powerful batting lineup would tuck right into that on the Aussie roads.

          As for Finch he’s coming off an outstanding ODI series in India in October when he was one of the few Aussies to really shine. Finch made 401 runs at 51 from his eight ODIs in 2017.

          • January 2nd 2018 @ 3:04pm
            dan ced said | January 2nd 2018 @ 3:04pm | ! Report

            Fair call on Finch, just not sure who to pick as far as bowlers go, who’s getting rested etc.

    • January 2nd 2018 @ 12:16pm
      Reece said | January 2nd 2018 @ 12:16pm | ! Report

      If Paine stays fit the keeper job could be his for the next couple of years. And i would certainly like that to be the case.

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