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“Paine has never played an ODI at home but when he will enter the ODI series against England two days later, his confidence will be as high as the sky, courtesy of the surreal experience of being a part of the winning Ashes side and not just a part but a significant contributor too in the triumph”

Nathan Lyon to James Vince, a flighted delivery on the stumps, Vince on front foot goes to defend, gets an outside edge but Australia’s recalled wicketkeeper Tim Paine wasn’t ready. DROPPED. Within seconds, the critics went overboard about Australian selectors’ decision to pick Paine, who had last played a Test almost seven years back.

If that blunder, on the first day of the summer, shook Paine’s confidence a bit, it was coherent. When Australia announced their Ashes squad, the player who received the most attention, not positive, was Paine. The fact that Australia’s coach Darren Lehmann had a more recent First-Class century (in 2007) than Paine (2006) made the move seemed even more dopey. Neither was Paine was a regular member of his state team of Tasmania and in the last three or four years, he had kept wickets for them for a total of three times.

However, by the time the Ashes 2017-18 ended, Australia’s National Selector Trevor Hohns became a hero, Paine showed miracles exist in this bad world and Australia had finally found a dependable wicketkeeper. If you thought the blunder on the opening day of the Magellan Ashes would break Paine, you were proved wrong and how! Paine was more than aware of the fact that it was certainly is the final shot at his national career and he did everything that was needed to prove the critics wrong.

Since the dropped catch, Australia’s new incumbent wicketkeeper boldly moved ahead, took some amazing catches, the stumping of Moeen Ali still was the highlight dismissal (after Starc’s ball of the century to Vince) in the series and Paine has not looked back since. He finished with a stumping and 25 catches which was also included the Chris Woakes’ catch that saw Australia regain the urn at the WACA of Pat Cummins’ bowling.

When Paine started this season, let alone being the first choice keeper of Tasmania, he was not even a regular member of the team in Sheffield Shield. Before he was selected for the Ashes, he had only one Shield game this season under his belt, not as a keeper-batsman but just as a batsman. And, Paine now has begun 2018 as an Ashes winner, who also is Australia’s first-choice wicketkeeper across the formats. When the Ashes was still underway, Cricket Australia announced their squad for the ODI series against England where Paine side-lined Wade as the team’s wicketkeeper even in the one-days.

We thought miracles and fairy-tales happened only on the big screen. However, Paine’s story will forever be etched as a living example of those rare people who have managed to turn the wheel of their life’s cart like magic. When Paine was spurned by his Tasmanian side before the start of this season and was about to become a father, he had considered retirement to take a job with equipment manufacturer Kookaburra. However, as a lifeline, Tasmania had extended his contract before he received a surprise call for the Cricket Australia XI to play England in the warm-up matches.

And the rest is history…..

Paine averaged 48 with the bat and contributed vital knocks of 57 in Adelaide and 49 not out in Perth. Meanwhile, with the gloves, he was near flawless post the first day of the Gabba Test, throughout the series. Nobody since Brad Haddin has looked so comfortable behind the wickets for Australia as Paine. Four years ago, Haddin finished with 22 dismissals as a keeper along with 493 runs that were so pivotal in Australia’s triumph. If not as a batsman, Paine (26 dismissals) certainly bettered Haddin as Australia’s wicketkeeper.

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Despite being away from the side for 2596 days, Paine fit so perfectly as if he has been doing that job for Australia for 10-20 years now. When Paine had made his Test debut in 2010, he looked just the ideal keeper for the side and the way he has played in the Ashes 2017-18, it seemed like he just picked his game from where he had left it last. Paine’s comeback has been termed the most dramatic in the history of Australian cricket not only brought solutions in Test cricket for them but also limited-overs. Australia being the defending champions and ICC Cricket World Cup now just a year away, Paine is a part of their blockbuster plan for the ICC event.

His selection in the ODIs has certainly come as a major morale booster for the 33-year-old and this time, he even has a few stats to back him up. Paine had kept wickets for the national team during the ICC Champions Trophy in South Africa, so the World Cup 2019 will not be his maiden ICC event. The fact that his only international career came in an ODI against England in Nottingham in 2009 is even better because England are the hosts of the upcoming 50-over World Cup. Moreover, Paine has eight List A hundreds behind him, and his record has suggested that his batting is best suited to the varied challenges offered in the one-day game.

I was shocked to find the video of Paine’s maiden ODI ton. but here you go:

Paine has never played an ODI at home but when he will enter the ODI series against England two days later, his confidence will be as high as the sky, courtesy of the surreal experience of being a part of the winning Ashes side and not just a part but a significant contributor too in the triumph.

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