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Paine keen to lead for as long as possible

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11th September, 2019
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A recurring finger injury that ruined what should have been the prime of Tim Paine’s cricket career means Australia’s captain has no interest in hanging up the gloves soon.

Paine became Australia’s 46th Test skipper in the aftermath of the Cape Town cheating scandal.

Many believed it would be a short-term measure until Steve Smith reclaimed the responsibility soon after his leadership ban expires in 2020.

However, Paine has proven his credentials tenfold while helping Australia retain the Ashes in England for the first time since 2001.

Smith has scored a mountain of runs to craft a 2-1 series lead but Paine’s leadership has been immense, as reflected in the way his team turned things around after Ben Stokes snatched a one-wicket win in the third Test.

The wicketkeeper also notably found form with the bat in Manchester, producing his first half-century in almost a year.

The 34-year-old, who was on the cusp of retiring from first-class cricket to take up a job with Kookaburra in 2017, has no interest in retiring after this five-Test series against England.

Part of the reason why can be traced back to the eight pins, metal plate and piece of hip bone in a dodgy finger that still rarely feels right when he’s keeping.

“I did miss a lot in, I suppose, the prime years of my cricket career,” Paine told reporters on the eve of the fifth Test.

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“The positive of that now is that physically I’m in really good condition for my age, and feel really good after Test matches.

“Mentally, it’s a different story but it only takes a day to recover from that.

“I’m loving doing what I’m doing.

“While you’ve got a job that you love, you’ll try and do it for as long as you can.”

Equally, Paine’s experience means he is well aware the end could be around the corner.

“I haven’t thought much past this Test match. As I’ve said in the last 18 months, I think it’s foolish at my age if you do,” the Tasmanian said.

“I constantly talk to JL (coach Justin Langer) and (chairman of selectors) Trevor Hohns about what might happen or how long I might go for.

“We’re all comfortable and we’re all on the same page so it’s all good.”

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Paine’s output with the bat has been a constant talking point in recent months but Langer has made it clear what matters most.

“Whatever runs you can get, it’s a bonus – we want you to be the best wicketkeeper in the world and the best captain you can be of this group,” Paine said of Langer’s message.

“It’s probably started to free me up a little bit.”