Pakistan v Australia 2010 July 10, 2010

Tim Paine gears for Lord's audition


Talented Australian wicketkeepers can spend a lifetime waiting for a shot at Test cricket. For some, like Brad Haddin and Graham Manou, it has come only after a 30th birthday; for others like Wade Seccombe and Darren Berry, it never arrives. So, when Tim Paine, 25, sets foot on Lord's for his debut next Tuesday as the youngest Australian Test gloveman since Ian Healy, he will appreciate his good fortune.

Haddin's elbow injury has given Paine two Tests to cement his place as the country's No. 2 behind the stumps. Competition is strong - Manou played Test cricket a year ago, Matthew Wade has grabbed his chances with Australia A, Luke Ronchi will continue to push for selection and Chris Hartley is a perennially accomplished gloveman - and Paine knows this is his window of opportunity.

"I'm absolutely thrilled to be given the opportunity to play Test cricket," Paine said. "It's a pretty rare thing for a wicketkeeper. I realise I'm very fortunate, to get it before you normally would. It's definitely a bit of an audition, if you can perform well in these two Tests, it puts me clearly as number two going down the track and if anything happens to Brad or he's rested or when he retires, performing well in these Tests will hold me in good stead."

But there are challenges. If he drops a few catches, or looks out of his depth, he could be overtaken next time Haddin is absent. Haddin didn't find Lord's an easy place to keep wicket during last year's second Ashes Test, when he let through 31 byes, and the famous slope of the venue is hard to get used to.

Then there's the red Duke ball, which behaves slightly differently to the Kookaburra Paine is accustomed to at home. Until the tour match in Derby, Paine had never before kept to the red Duke and he dropped Chris Rogers down leg side, although shortly afterwards he pouched a catch and felt much better for it.

"To have my first catch with the Duke ball was good," Paine said. "To get that away and not cop one on the end of my fingers was good. It's a slightly different ball. It feels a little bit heavier when you catch it, but apart from that, a red ball's a red ball.

"I've spoken to Tim Nielsen about it [the ball and the Lord's slope] and I'm trying not to read too much into it. I know if I'm watching the ball and am nice and relaxed, if it does swing or dip, I'll catch the ball no matter what it does. I've enjoyed keeping at Lord's with the slope in one-day cricket."

It is in ODIs that Paine initially made his mark at international level. Last year, he was given several chances and thrived in the format, making his maiden century at Trent Bridge. During this year's one-dayers in England he has been less fluent opening the innings, although his results have been far from terrible, with 54 at Lord's and 44 at Old Trafford.

The rate of his scoring was the main concern during the limited-overs games, and he believes his slower batting style will be better suited to Test cricket. In the tour match, he finished unbeaten on 52, and it was a valuable innings for his confidence.

"I was trying to keep it nice and straight and keeping it simple," he said. "I felt I was batting reasonably well through the one-day series, it was just the forced pressure to score quickly was what was getting me out at times. In Test cricket you haven't got any of that, so my batting is in a good place and I'm looking forward to trying to bat for a very long time."

Perhaps the most pleasing aspect for Paine ahead of his Test debut, from a personal perspective, will be the presence of his grandmother Elizabeth Shaw, who is in her eighties. She has watched Paine's career closely from the sidelines and to have her in the stands at Lord's alongside his parents will make his debut all the more memorable.

Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Muhammad on July 12, 2010, 8:39 GMT

    I think Paine has got to improve his batting allot if he wants to cement his place in the Australian squad because one can never be the first keeper choice if he is not batting well.According to me Paine needs to improve his shot selection and reflexes but behind the wickets he is very good.Being a young keeper he has great athleticism unlike others keepers like Dhoni who cannot dive much...!!!

  • david on July 12, 2010, 8:08 GMT

    Paine, no doubt is number 2. Then why have the Australian selectors given him this chance in front of Manou.

  • Curtis on July 12, 2010, 4:02 GMT

    Haddin is a vastly improved keeper, his last season in Australia keeping wicket was outstanding... dunno what you guys are on. lol

  • Wanderer on July 11, 2010, 16:47 GMT

    Nothing happened to his "strike rate" except for International Cricket. It's absurd to think he's gonna come onto the International scene and smack some of the best bowlers in the world around for runs. Was never gonna happen. It's a step up from domestic cricket.

  • geoff on July 11, 2010, 5:49 GMT

    Well I just hope the selectors can see what a decent gloveman can do to improve the Aussies.Not a fan of Haddin's keeping and he is a very handy batsman but doesnt hit runs when they are most needed.Tim Paine is a talented young cricketer who can only get better,where as in Haddin has a lot of problems with his keeping and I can not see him getting better as he has had a lot of time to work on his technique.While Im at it Rhonchi had got his head switched on lately and T20 keeper for me and Paine in the other formats.

  • Dummy4 on July 11, 2010, 4:58 GMT

    donw others agree with me how Paine mysteriously lost his strike rate??? dont know wat happened 2 him...

  • Dummy4 on July 11, 2010, 0:06 GMT

    Incidentally - my dad coached Ricky Ponting in high school cricket and said he was the best wicket keeper he had ever seen :) but Ponter could not get a go with the gloves in grade cricket cause there were old hands that would not move aside. Just think, if Ponting had been a gloveman would he have got a go in test cricket? If he had would Gilly have been another great state level player that never made it to test level??

  • Dummy4 on July 11, 2010, 0:01 GMT

    Good Luck Tim Paine . I am sure you will do an excellent job with both bat and gloves. You are more settled in now and show much more confidence in all that you do . Australian's are right behind you , and all wish you all the best for your future .

  • Dummy4 on July 10, 2010, 18:39 GMT

    wicket keepers are to be reliable with the gloves. the batting is a bonus, i think Tim Paine's going to take all his chances he can get, as you would do with every moment in life. Grasp the opportunity that comes.

  • Lou on July 10, 2010, 11:51 GMT

    If they are looking for a proper batsman/opener, if Luke Ronchi has another strong season for the Warriors, they could do worse than have him at least in the 20/20 team. Very aggressive batsman. Probably not quite as good with the gloves as Hartley o even Paine though.

    I really don't rate Haddin with the gloves at all. I still can't forget how he THREW his glove at a ball he should have stopped against India.

  • No featured comments at the moment.