Last year Tim Paine’s renowned glove work wasn’t enough to see him selected in Tasmania’s state team.
Three days ago, he was not even considered his state’s first-choice keeper.
Next week, Paine will go from a second-choice keeper for his state to the No.1 man in the country, in what is one of the most dramatic comebacks and selections in Australian cricket history.
Paine, 32, last represented Australia in a Test match in 2010, and a series of operations on his finger along with a loss of form even had him contemplating retirement earlier this year.
On Thursday, he will wear the baggy green again, 2596 days since he last wore it.
Tasmania skipper George Bailey has observed Paine from close quarters for a long time and feels he still has a long future at international level.
“He can have a huge impact on the Australian team for the next five years,” Bailey told The New Daily.
“He’s played Test cricket before and handled it with aplomb. I expect him to take off where he last left the Test team.
“He has a good cricket brain.
“His work ethic, his self-belief and his competitive spirit … but it is his willingness to fight in a contest that sets him apart from others.”
Despite not keeping for Tasmania this season, Bailey says Paine is still one of the best in the business.
“Tim’s keeping is elite and despite not doing it regularly for Tasmania, the work he has done on it, and continues to do on it, holds him in good stead,” he said.
“I imagine if you asked the other keepers, they would say he has been a great help to them – a terrific trait given the competitiveness of the role and the fact he has been helping players that have, at times, had the spot he coveted.”
Bailey admits that if it wasn’t for a changing of the guard in Tasmanian cricket last year, then there was a fair chance that Paine might have walked away from the game.
So how close did Paine come to retirement last year?
“I was very close,” Paine admitted after this selection on Thursday.
Kookaburra, a sports equipment company, specialising in cricket and hockey gear, had even made an offer to Paine.
“I don’t think it’s any secret that Tim was weighing up his future last year, and we had a job vacancy that deals with our contracted players and sponsored associations that he showed some interest in as he considered life after cricket. “ Shannon Gill, spokesman for Kookaburra told The New Daily.
“From our end it appeared to be a pretty close-run decision as he weighed it all up, but thankfully he made the right decision to keep playing.”
One of the reasons that prompted Kookaburra to approach Paine was his professional approach and his dedication to cricket.
“During his time out through injuries, he took it upon himself to go and do a range of appearances for the company with community cricket associations above and beyond his contract, enhancing the regard he was held in,” Gill said.
Kookaburra might not have Paine working in their office, but Gill feels he is still representing them in a way.
“We also see the nation’s wicketkeeper [Paine] using our gear in the First Test,” Gill says with a laugh.
Bailey, who was part of the historic Ashes whitewash four years ago, had one piece of advice for Paine.
“Enjoy the celebrations … having never lost a Test, that’s the only bit I remember!” he added.