Paine, the Quiet Achiever

One of the TV commentators (sorry, can’t remember which one) remarked during the recent First Test between Australia and India that Tim Paine’s Test batting average had risen to 33.40, giving him the second highest batting average for a Test wicketkeeper in Australian history.

It’s true.

This is a remarkable achievement, especially as Paine was picked for Australia in November 2017 when he wasn’t even playing regularly for Tasmania, was thrust into the captaincy a few months later due to the ball tampering scandal, and has not scored a Test century in 33 Tests. It is testament to his ability to chip in with helpful scores at No. 7 on a regular basis, a trait that has proven useful given Australia’s inability to find reliable batsmen to fill the No. 5 and No. 6 slots. Paine’s 73 not out in the First Test against India, when he top-scored and enabled the team to limp to a total of 191, is a good example of what he’s capable of.

Adam Gilchrist, of course, is unlikely to relinquish the title of highest run-scorer, with a Test average of 47.60 and 17 centuries. Brad Haddin, meanwhile, averaged 32.98 from 66 Tests with 4 centuries. Wayne Phillips averaged 32.28 in 27 Tests (2 centuries). Ian Healy averaged only 27.39, with 4 centuries from 119 Tests.

Paine’s prowess with the bat and his admirable captaincy after Sandpapergate (11 Test wins in 20 matches) has made it difficult for Alex Carey to break into the Test team. On the other hand, at 36 years of age he doesn’t have a lot of time left.

But if Paine keeps playing like this, one would think he’ll dictate his own terms when he comes to the timing of his retirement. When he does stand down, the accolades will be well deserved.

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