Australian wicketkeeper Tim Paine feels that he was picked in the Test team mainly because of his wicket-keeping skills and not for his exploits with the bat. He also revealed how he battled mental demons during his bad phase.
In November 2017, when the selectors announced the Australian team for the Ashes, there were a couple of surprises. But none bigger than Tim Paine. But the Tasmanian wicketkeeper repaid the faith of the selectors as he kept very well in the Ashes and also made some important contributions with the bat at No. 7.
Speaking in a press conference ahead of the second Test against South Africa in Port Elizabeth, Tim Paine revealed that he knows that he is not in the team for his batting. It is his keeping that has impressed the selectors and he is still working on it and trying to get better.
“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. But I've maintained a really high standard of wicket-keeping for a long time now and it's something I still work on daily and I still think I'm getting better at,” Paine said.
He also said that he’s been working hard to keep behind a spinner (Nathan Lyon in particular). He explained that his lengthy celebration after dismissing Aiden Markram was for Brad Haddin as the former Aussie stumper has been working hard with him. Paine had taken a superb catch standing up to the stumps to Mitchell Marsh and dismissed centurion Markram.
“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. 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 said in Port Elizabeth.
Paine also recalled how he fought his mental demons after his finger injury. 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. 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,” the 33-year old wicket-keeper said.
Paine also said that he worked really hard with Adam Griffith and Jeff Vaughan. “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,” Paine revealed.
Focussing back on the current series, Paine said that the Australian team would like to continue to put Keshav Maharaj under pressure. Paine acknowledged that Maharaj bowled well, but he rued the fact that they gifted a few wickets away. The South African left-arm spinner took 9 wickets but was also a touch expensive.
“We thought he bowled really well. We were probably disappointed - we thought we gifted him a few too many wickets. 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,” Paine added.
The second Test between South Africa and Australia starts on March 9 in Port Elizabeth.