Tim Paine should open Australia’s ODI batting

Ronan O'Connell Columnist

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

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    Australia’s ODI wicketkeepers have batted down the order for years now, but Tim Paine’s unsuitability to batting at the death is a good reason to trial him as an opener in England this month.

    Paine was recently announced as Australia’s new captain, replacing the banned Steve Smith, which makes it likely the Tasmanian will be in the starting line-up for the 2019 World Cup in 12 months from now.

    If Australia are to win that tournament as outsiders, it is crucial they swiftly find the right batting role for the 33-year-old.

    This month’s five-match series in England is the perfect opportunity to experiment in the same conditions the team will face at the World Cup.

    Realistically, Australia are no chance of beating England this series, given they will be without six members of their best XI – Steve Smith, David Warner, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and Mitch Marsh.

    Even when they were at almost full strength, against England in January, Australia still got hammered at home by the world’s number one ODI team.

    So there’s little to lose by trying out some new tactics.

    Paine has done a fantastic job with the bat in Test cricket since making a shock return last summer. In the longest format he is well suited to batting at seven due to his patience and ability to operate well with the tail.

    Tim Paine

    Andrew Tye and Tim Paine of Australia. (Photo by Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images)

    By contrast, he lacks the dynamism required to be an effective seven in 50-over cricket, where teams routinely make huge totals off the back of scoring at ten runs per over or more during the death. Paine’s batting is built on timing and placement rather than brutality.

    This is why he has spent most of his ODI and T20 careers as an opening batsman.

    Against a hard, new ball, with the field up, Paine’s timing and placement come to the fore. He can lean into a drive and stroke it to the vacant cover boundary, or clip the ball off his hip through an unguarded deep square region to the fence.

    Those same shots earn him only a single when batting at seven against an old ball with the field set deep. This is why batsmen in that position need to be able to manufacture boundaries with pure hitting power, muscling decent deliveries over the infield or over the fence.

    That is not Paine’s game. He seems unlikely to be able to come in during the final ten overs and crunch 40 from 30 balls, the kind of sprightly innings expected of a good number seven.

    This was my impression watching him in the domestic 50-over competition, and an impression which was confirmed during the January ODIs against England.

    Batting at seven, Paine made scores of 27, 31*, 25* and 34 in that series. While that is a handy contribution, the downside was that not one of those knocks came at strike rate of better than 88.

    His strike rate across that series was 83, which translates to a run rate of just five runs per over. That is far too slow when you consider Paine came to the crease in the final 15 overs in three out of his four knocks.

    In the third match, Paine arrived to bat with Australia 5-210 with 11.3 overs remaining. They needed 93 runs to win at a manageable rate of eight runs per over.

    Instead, they made just 1-76 during that period, scoring at a tardy 6.6 runs per over even though they finished with four wickets in hand. Paine ended up not out with 31 from 35 balls.

    He managed just one boundary – a four – despite Australia’s need to pick up the pace.

    It wasn’t for a lack of trying – Paine just didn’t have the power needed in such a circumstance. He’s unlikely to suddenly reinvent himself as a destructive strike down the order, which is why it makes sense to give Paine a crack at opening.

    At the top of the order he has greater potential versatility. Paine could be instructed either to play an anchor role, while others attack around him, or encouraged to take on the bowlers as he does against the new ball in the Big Bash League.

    The latter, aggressive approach would make more sense in the upcoming series, given the hosts’ ballistic batting power. England have no trouble setting or chasing totals of 350-plus, so Australia need to take some risks with the bat.

    Paine could open the batting with ferocious striker D’Arcy Short and both go after England’s modest pace attack. If this aggression didn’t come off, the Aussies would still have three batsmen to come – Aaron Finch, Shaun Marsh and Travis Head – comfortable building an innings.

    On the other hand, if Short and Paine got off to a flyer, Australia would be in a position to manipulate their batting order, potentially elevating the likes of Glenn Maxwell or Marcus Stoinis to continue the assault.

    The alternative – playing Paine out of position at seven – seems folly.

    Australia have nothing to lose, let the skipper open.

    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 (55)

    • June 6th 2018 @ 3:59am
      KenoathCarnt said | June 6th 2018 @ 3:59am | ! Report

      I would prefer him like 2nd drop as an acumulator and to face the spin. Although he has played some quite destructive innings for the Hurricanes opening with Short maybe they can replicate that and have Finch first drop? Either way he will be more effective then at no.7 batting higher up.

    • June 6th 2018 @ 7:00am
      dangertroy said | June 6th 2018 @ 7:00am | ! Report

      Paine played as an opener when he first came into the ODI side, so it’s not a radical move. He scored a century and five 50s in that position too.

    • June 6th 2018 @ 7:17am
      Scott said | June 6th 2018 @ 7:17am | ! Report

      What I get from this article is that Paine shouldn’t be even in the one day team. It should be a younger and more dynamic batsman whilst building for the World Cup. There is a few keepers to choose from too.

      • Roar Guru

        June 6th 2018 @ 9:32am
        JamesH said | June 6th 2018 @ 9:32am | ! Report

        Yeah, he has been picked for leadership (which is silly, given we have Finch to captain) more than being the best choice as a limited overs keeper-batsman. Carey could have batted at 7 as a power hitter.

        Top 3 is definitely Paine’s best spot but the problem is we have about 5 players in the side who are best in the top 3 – Paine, Finch, Short, Head and S Marsh – with no obvious choices for 4 & 5. If they do promote Paine to open then I think the best order is as follows:


      • Columnist

        June 6th 2018 @ 11:32am
        Ronan O'Connell said | June 6th 2018 @ 11:32am | ! Report

        Scott I don’t think Paine fits into the ODI XI, Australia would be better off with Carey or Handscomb keeping.

        But then again Paine has proven many of us wrong with his success since returning to the Test team so maybe he’ll do the same in ODIs.

    • June 6th 2018 @ 7:42am
      George said | June 6th 2018 @ 7:42am | ! Report

      I would prefer Khawaja opening.

      • Roar Guru

        June 6th 2018 @ 9:33am
        JamesH said | June 6th 2018 @ 9:33am | ! Report

        He’d have to be in the squad first…

        • June 6th 2018 @ 11:03am
          Stephen said | June 6th 2018 @ 11:03am | ! Report

          Absolute joke that the best openign batsman in the country in one day and T20 cricket isn’t even in the squad

          • Roar Guru

            June 6th 2018 @ 4:56pm
            Matt H said | June 6th 2018 @ 4:56pm | ! Report

            There it is!

            • June 8th 2018 @ 5:46am
              Justsaying said | June 8th 2018 @ 5:46am | ! Report

              +1 to Khawaja opening

    • June 6th 2018 @ 8:45am
      jimbo said | June 6th 2018 @ 8:45am | ! Report

      interesting call.. would make for a munch more dynamic batting order. Probably worth a try… For mine id have him at 5 to try and shore up (an inevitable) top order collapse and to stop us not getting bogged down by spin in the middle overs…

      K Richardson
      (J. Richardson)

      Plus if recent games are anything to go by one of our bigger failings is our lower middle order being unable to catapult our innings to a 350+ score… I can only really see maxwell or stoinis as middle order players that could do that

      • Columnist

        June 6th 2018 @ 11:35am
        Ronan O'Connell said | June 6th 2018 @ 11:35am | ! Report

        The problem I have with that batting lineup Jimbo is that you have three batsmen in a row at 3/4/5 who are slow starters and like to build an innings (SMarsh, Head and Paine).

        That middle order would get bogged down far too often for my liking against the highest scoring team in ODIs in England.

        • June 6th 2018 @ 11:49am
          jimbo said | June 6th 2018 @ 11:49am | ! Report

          @Ronan…good point mate- the problem is the selectors picked a pretty average squad and thats all we’ve got to work with..as they always do they failed to pick enough batsmen and didnt get close to picking the best 6 in the country

          what would be your top 7?

          • Columnist

            June 6th 2018 @ 12:56pm
            Ronan O'Connell said | June 6th 2018 @ 12:56pm | ! Report

            Jimbo with the limits of the squad they’ve picked I’d go with this

            1. Short
            2. Paine (must attack new ball)
            3. Finch
            4. SMarsh
            5. Head (must be more attacking than he has been)
            6. Stoinis
            7. Maxwell (used as a floater depending on circumstances. If Australia get off to a good start promote him up the order to continue to go hard).
            8. Agar

            That’s about as good as I can do with the squad they’ve picked – Short and Paine to attack the new ball, Finch and SMarsh to be solid, Head to up the ante, and Stoinis, Maxwell and Agar to finish with a bang.

            • Roar Guru

              June 7th 2018 @ 9:16am
              JamesH said | June 7th 2018 @ 9:16am | ! Report

              Not bad, but I reckon you’d be better off swapping Head and Finch. Finch has shown an ability to go hard in the middle order, whereas Head looks uncomfortable outside of the top 3.

        • June 6th 2018 @ 11:57am
          Nudge said | June 6th 2018 @ 11:57am | ! Report

          They would be absolutely mad not to bring in Ferguson with the form he is in

          • June 6th 2018 @ 12:01pm
            jimbo said | June 6th 2018 @ 12:01pm | ! Report

            I know!! i wouldnt surprised if Khawaja (who is over there now) and Ferguson come in for the last game to replace a S Marsh or a T Head potentially when we inevitably end up getting trounced.. Selectors got this team wrong..

            • Columnist

              June 6th 2018 @ 12:58pm
              Ronan O'Connell said | June 6th 2018 @ 12:58pm | ! Report

              Australia won’t be making any changes to this ODI squad unless someone gets injured, they never do that on overseas ODI tours.

              • June 6th 2018 @ 8:50pm
                Nudge said | June 6th 2018 @ 8:50pm | ! Report

                You’re probably right Ronan but hopefully selectors can see that this is a totally different situation. The team we have over there is so weak, I can’t see anything else but a hiding. Why not bring in a player who at the current minute, is the best one day batsman in Australia

              • June 7th 2018 @ 6:40am
                Justsaying said | June 7th 2018 @ 6:40am | ! Report

                Khawaja is there now and is easily our best one day batsman in the absence of smith and warner so part of me is hoping we can fake a injury to get him in lol

              • June 8th 2018 @ 11:45am
                George said | June 8th 2018 @ 11:45am | ! Report

                S Marsh is a mediocrity.

    • June 6th 2018 @ 8:57am
      mbp said | June 6th 2018 @ 8:57am | ! Report

      nice article.
      but seriously i am not that amped anymore about cricket.

      i wonder how many other people feel pretty disinterested in cricket at the moment……?????????????

      i cant help thinking cricket australia has CUT THEIR OWN THROAT by suspending our best batsmen for a long period instead of letting the icc sanction them for a game or 2 like they have done to england, indian, south afrrican and pakistani ball tamperers.

      i think public interest, ratings and crowds will be down with no smith and warner and if we a losing they will be down massively.

      • June 6th 2018 @ 9:05am
        jimbo said | June 6th 2018 @ 9:05am | ! Report

        yeah im a die hard tragic but its hard to see a turnaround of form from here…it makes it hard to watch when we are so noncompetitive especially when selectors dont even bother to pick our best players for a given format

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