Tim Paine – a career built on contrasts ends quietly
It’s a what-if story.
What if Tim Paine had never been picked in the Australian side for Ashes 2017?
What would happen if the ball-tampering scandal ever broke out in public?
But more importantly, what if Paine had never played that important All-Stars T20 match in 2010, when a rising delivery from Nannes broke his right index finger?
It’s a story worth spending some brain juice on, because that injury had a huge impact on the cricketer who was tagged as a ‘future captain’ in 2010, darkening into mediocrity and back into the Test side. In 2017 Australia’s food system was met with pure derision.
When a cricketer retires, there is a growing tendency among cricket writers to use hindsight to put the career into perspective. The idea is worthless and sometimes trivial. But the story of Paine’s injury almost a decade and a half ago defined the interlude of Australian cricket in a way they could hardly have imagined, becoming a story in itself.
It’s important to remember those details when you’re trying to figure out Paine’s cult of personality as he took over Australia’s captaincy after the Sandpapergate scandal, and then bowed out with another scandal. his name, we sometimes forget what kind of batsman he was – stoic in times of collapse, and brave in front, even when things were falling apart around him. A lack of runs never got in the way of his stubbornness to bring out the best he could – a defining feature of his captaincy tenure, which was adorned with beautiful crest and trough.
“The level of maintenance given his age and the level he’s still been able to create has been incredible,” Tasmanian skipper Jordan Silk said of Paine. “He’s always someone behind the scenes doing the work. I think he sets a great example for all of our guys of work ethic and all that kind of stuff.”
Paine could never endear himself to Indian cricket fans. He was a typical Aussie head, you could go and make noise. From sledding Rishabh Pant left, right and center in the 2018-19 Border-Gavaskar Trophy to argy-bargy alongside Ravichandran Ashwin in the 2020-21 series, Paine was always there to do something that seemed out of place. But that was perhaps an extension of his innate personality that was never swayed by the prospect of an IPL contract.
Think about it all and then imagine the contrast of Paine’s exit from cricket altogether. A player, who published a memoir a year after his last Test, hanging Cricket Australia out to dry in the Cricket Tasmania sexting scandal, was surprisingly silent in retirement and did not even appear in the post-match press. conference. There may not be much to read here, but the way things have been going over the last few months, it was hard to keep an eye on it.
When Paine retired from international cricket, he never seemed extraordinary. His successor, Pat Cummins, ensured that Australia played tough cricket and reached the final of the World Test Championship in June. They drew in Sri Lanka, won in Pakistan, and stunned the Windies and South Africa at home, and put on a show in India, almost threatening the home side’s proud dominance in these conditions.
All of these have ensured that Paine has slowly settled into his pre-2017 slumber, holding out hope that seemed further away than ever. Then he bided his time, conducted a culture review, and returned as quickly as he could. He had an interlude, it wasn’t all fun, but figuratively, he had a huge impact on Australian cricket. This heritage will not be forgotten.