Haddin's ache is Paine's gain
A day after being named in Australia's Test squad to face Pakistan, Brad Haddin has been ruled out and replaced by Tim Paine for the two-match series in England next month. Haddin was initially given another week to prove his fitness from an elbow tendon problem, but the decision to keep him home was made by Dr Trefor James after reviewing the injury.
While the complaint doesn't hamper Haddin when he is behind the stumps, it has troubled the 32-year-old's batting since the end of last year. He faced an over in the nets on Tuesday but could still feel the pain.
"It is extremely disappointing to miss any match for your country and especially frustrating in this situation where I can do everything but pick up a cricket bat," he said. "I have been extremely aggressive in the treatment process of this tendon injury, doing everything I possibly could to play against Pakistan. After seeing the specialist in Sydney today he has advised me that the best course of action is to take a slow and steady approach to getting it right."
Haddin, the first-choice gloveman since Adam Gilchrist retired, has played 27 Tests and is aiming to return to the national side for the tour of India in October. "Now that I have time on my hands, the specialist and I are very confident I can let the injury repair itself in normal time and be ready to go," he said.
The decision gives Paine, the Tasmanian, two matches at Lord's and Leeds to challenge Haddin for the position in the long term. Haddin's superior batting - he averages 38.62 with two hundreds - means he will come back as soon as he is fit, but Paine has a rare opportunity.
Not since Ian Healy's debut in 1988-89 has an understudy gained more than one Test cap, with Phil Emery and Graham Manou limited to a single appearance each. Emery filled in for Healy in Pakistan in 1994 while Manou replaced Haddin when he broke a finger on last year's Ashes trip.
Paine is currently on the limited-overs tour of the British Isles and scored 26 as an opener in the loss to England on Tuesday. He has appeared in 19 ODIs and 37 first-class games, collecting 102 four-day dismissals and averaging 30.96 while playing the majority of his games on a tricky Bellerive Oval pitch.
Andrew Hilditch's selection panel has been impressed by Paine's work with Tasmania and in Australia's one-day team. "We feel he has the skills and temperament to do extremely well in Test cricket for Australia," Hilditch said. "It is a well deserved opportunity which we are sure Tim will make the most of during the series against Pakistan."
Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo