Player spotlight

Never show the Paine

Tim Paine has played a mere 32 test matches for Australia. Despite such a brief international career, he has had a tremendous impact on Australian cricket. Appointed skipper in the aftermath of the sandpaper debacle, Tim Paine led the side away from the days of relentless controversy and restored a prosperous team culture. His impeccable glovework and leadership was crucial to Australia’s success in retaining the Ashes.

However, as soon as they waded away from the dark ages, Australia found reason to doubt Tim Paine, the catalyst who had inspired this period of immense change. A plethora of respectable names in cricket have displayed suspicion in Tim Paine’s batting calibre; he averages a mere 31.27 and is yet to accumulate his maiden ton. Is this enough to warranty a place in the side?

Pundits surmised that this India tour will be the Australian captain’s endmost chance to prove his credentials with the bat. If he fails, it will be the climax of Tim Paine the test cricketer.

This aura of scepticism and uncertainty is common territory for Tim Paine. Afterall, he was routinely ridiculed for simply being the Australian captain due to his underwhelming stats. Unwanted mental demons would have been tip-toeing into his conscience ahead of the India series, gradually eating away at his self belief. But he knew that the time was ripe to prove his doubters wrong, yet again.

It was the 2nd day of the 1st test against India; they were languishing behind in a crucial game. The pitch was deviously cunning and constantly scheming ways to deceive unassuming batsmen with invariable bounce. India’s bowlers were breathtakingly efficient in extracting every piece of lateral movement that the pitch had to offer. Even players of the class of Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith found run making an arduous task.

Australia’s skipper imperiously strode out to the middle, oozing composure and intent. It was evident to all that Tim Paine was going to take the game by the scruff of the neck. He began his knock with utter fluency and showcased some crisp footwork. Paine was the dominant contributor in a budding partnership with Marnus Labuschagne. Things were looking rosier for Australia.

Unfortunately, the set batsman Labuschagne fell for a scratchy 47 and Paine was left with Starc for company. He tamed the fiery Indian quicks with a delightful array of his signature back-foot punches and pulls. Paine and Starc routinely rotated strike and kept the scoreboard ticking while the Indian bowlers scratched their heads in despair.

Paine’s presence was providing a crucial solidity in Australia’s pursuit to minimising India’s lead. This innings was shaping up to be the literal definition of a “captain’s knock”. The doubters were slowly fading away…

Despite the closure of Starc’s useful cameo, Paine, ably aided by Lyon and Hazlewood, continued to soldier on with a combo of grit and exuberant stroke play. Run by run, boundary by boundary, Australia trickled away to a total with a subtle of competitiveness: 191 all out. Tim Paine was the last man standing with an incalculably valiant 73*.

It was a knock that epitomizes the infinite qualities that Paine possesses that transcend the mere numbers. It simultaneously showed that he is a classy test batsman; it is not how many runs you score, it is when you get them and Paine is a flawless example for that idealogy.

In addition, it was a testament to the immense mental strength he has constantly displayed throughout his career. He was a victim of countless gruesome finger injuries at the beginning of his fledgling career. Instead of dwelling on his unfortunate past, Paine found a way to conquer his obstacles. He was constantly tested with taunts that he is not fit to play international cricket, let alone be the incumbent of Australian captaincy. Even that could not penetrate the indestructible Paine.

It would have been easy for him to give up on his dream but no, Tim knew that he must never show the Paine..

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