On Sunday night, Fox Cricket’s Mark Waugh made the left-field suggestion for captain Tim Paine to open the batting in the first Test against India.
Waugh’s reasoning behind this call is that Tim Paine has a good-track record opening the batting for Tasmania and this shift in the line-up will enable a place for potential debutant Cameron Green in the middle-order.
Interestingly, Waugh was one of the selectors involved with the Australian national teams between 2014 and 2018. During this period, he is credited with being one of the key reasons that Tim Paine was picked in the 2017-18 Ashes Test side ahead of Matthew Wade and Peter Nevill as the first-choice wicketkeeper.
At the time, Paine had only played seven Sheffield Shield matches within the last two seasons, causing his inclusion in the squad to be criticised. Despite this, Paine played in all five Tests, averaging 48.00 with the bat and taking 25 catches as well as three stumpings with the gloves.
Paine has opened for Tasmania in the Sheffield Shield, One Day Cup and the Futures League on a combined 28 occasions. In these 28 innings, he has three centuries and five fifties at an average of 35.32.
This season so far, Joe Burns is averaging 6.88 in first class cricket for Queensland and Australia A in their two warm-up matches against India. Having had a good summer last year, averaging 38.17 against Pakistan and New Zealand in five Tests, it was assumed that he and David Warner would continue to open together in this upcoming series against India. This mindset has since changed due to Burns’ poor form and Will Pucovski’s recent success.
Also, with Cameron Green averaging 72.6 in his last six innings for Western Australia as well as scoring 125* and achieving bowling figures of 2/12 and 1/20 for Australia A against India, the young all-rounder is deserving of a spot in the middle order for the first Test.
The issue here is that Matthew Wade and Travis Head have been performing well at five and six. Wade averaged 63.88 against Pakistan and New Zealand last season and Travis Head averaged 42.60 in the last series on Australian soil against the Kiwis. Moving Tim Paine from his usual batting position of seven to an opening spot would allow Cameron Green to get the game-time in the baggy green he deserves.
It should be noted that Green suffered a concussion when bowling for Australia A on Friday when the ball was smacked back at him by Jasprit Bumrah, hitting the 21-year-old on the side of his head, near his temple.
Despite this, Green has still been included and flown out to Adelaide as part of Australia’s first Test squad. Australia A captain Alex Carey stated, “From reports I think he’s in really high spirits.”
Due to the injuries of Pucovski and Warner, Joe Burns’ run of low scores for Queensland and Australia A and Cameron Green potentially coming into the middle-order (injury permitting), I believe Tim Paine should open the batting for the first time in his Test career.