Tim Paine keen to maintain high wicketkeeping standards

Tim Paine made his third Test fifty Getty Images

With the younger and highly regarded Alex Carey snapping at his heels, Tim Paine knows the wicketkeeping standard he set in dismissing Aiden Markram in Durban is the one he must maintain in order to keep the most contested role in the Australian Test team.

Paine's celebration of the catch to dismiss Markram, at a time when South Africa were threatening to chase down a distant target of 417, was directed squarely at the assistant coach Brad Haddin, with whom he had been working on precisely the technique that helped him clasp the edge off the bowling of Mitchell Marsh.

"There's no secret I was picked in this Test team not for my batting, certainly not what I'd produced in the last few years," Paine said. "But I've maintained a really high standard of wicketkeeping for a long time now and it's something I still work on daily and I still think I'm getting better at.

"I've been working because of Nathan [Lyon] as well, when the ball's outside off stump to right-handers, trying not to push off my outside leg and get my head stuck back in behind the batter," Paine said in Port Elizabeth. "If you do that, your gloves come with your head and edges can get between myself and Smithy at first slip, or if the ball doesn't spin and a stumping from Lyono comes past the outside edge, that's where I want to be, I don't want to be pushing back towards the stumps.

"Even though it was Mitchell Marsh, the technique we've been working on, worked beautifully for that one. That's why my celebration went a bit longer than normal that one, it was really to Hadds because it's something I've been working on, and when you work really hard on something and it comes off in a big moment in a Test match it's bloody exciting."

Paine has been frank about his troubles with the bat in the past, following several years of struggle with a badly broken index finger that required seven rounds of surgery. Asked whether there had been a "perception" that he was being overly worried at the crease because of his finger, Paine said his mental battle had been very real.

"I don't think it was perception. It was actually happening. I couldn't get a run," Paine said. "I think I just had some mental demons really. I came back from a finger injury probably thinking that it was going to be a bit easier than it was. And then when it didn't happen I probably started to panic a little bit to be honest. Cricket is a massive confidence game and I just completely lost my confidence.

"I couldn't score a run in club cricket three years ago. I had to do a lot of work with our sports psych firstly and luckily Adam Griffith was appointed coach and he brought with him Jeff Vaughan, who has been amazing and not just for me. He's been down there [Tasmania] for six or seven months now and he's turned that batting group around completely. He's done an amazing job. We're lucky he came down when he did.

"I was starting to bat really well through this pre-season under Jeff. And then I played the one Shield game and got 70 odd not out against the Vics so I was feeling really good. But I needed to get out in the middle and score a few runs to prove to myself that I could do it under pressure."

One South African player the Australians want to continue to place under pressure is Keshav Maharaj, who took nine wickets in Durban with his intelligent left-arm spin. Paine said they were happy with the rate at which they scored against Maharaj on a turning pitch, but needed to do similar at St George's Park without losing as many wickets.

"We thought he bowled really well. We were probably disappointed - we thought we gifted him a few too many wickets," Paine said. "A few guys got out to some good balls but the thing we were really pleased with facing him was we scored at around 3.7, 3.8 off him for the whole game.

"I think we scored something like 230 runs off him for the Test match. It's just about being a little bit more disciplined for a bit longer against him, and trying to I suppose stop him from getting wickets, which will then force them to bring their quicks back."