London: Ashes-retaining captain Tim Paine intends to stay on the throne of Australian cricket for as long as he can at a time when he has the backing of the highest office in the land and the Cricket Australia boardroom.
Come the end of the fifth Test starting Thursday, Paine will be the first Australian man to lift the urn in England in 18 years but as grand a sign off as that would be he wants to make up for the years he lost in his prime. The 34-year-old is in the twilight of a career in which the sun refuses to set.
No rush: Tim Paine has not set an end date on his career.Credit:Getty Images Europe
Such is the strength of their pace attack, Australia will start warm favourites at home against Pakistan and New Zealand.
If Paine wins both series and maintains his strong standing behind the stumps, that will see him through to next March, when former skipper Steve Smith's ban from leadership expires.
While it may appear logical for Smith to then take over, that first requires Paine to step down, and then the backing of selectors and ratification from the CA board.
Paine does not sound like a man who sees his end coming anytime soon, nor do the decision-makers at Jolimont. There is a view that Smith has lost the right to lead the country ever again despite his sustained excellence with the bat.
There is no obvious replacement either. Pat Cummins is a bowler and the man he shares the vice-captaincy with, Travis Head, is not cemented in the side. In Alex Carey's case, he is not in the side at all.
Paine said he would not retire after this Test, declaring he would stay on so long as he still enjoyed the job. He did, however, express doubt as to whether he would still be around to lead the team in the final of the Test Championship, in June 2021, if Australia were to qualify.
"I don't know about that," Paine quipped. "I'm enjoying what I'm doing and whilst I can continue to contribute in some way I'll continue to do it.
"I constantly talk to Justin Langer and Trevor Hohns about what might happen or how long I might go for, but I think we're all comfortable and we're all on the same page so it's all good."
After making his debut in 2010 and playing four Tests while Brad Haddin was injured, Paine had to wait another seven years to wear the baggy green again due to a string of nasty finger injuries that pushed him out of the Tasmanian side and to the point of retirement.
"I did miss a lot in, I suppose, the prime years of my cricket career," Paine said. "The positive of that now is that physically I'm in really good condition for my age, and I feel really good after Test matches physically.
"Mentally, it's a different story but it only takes a day to recover from that. While I keep enjoying it, I'll keep doing it."
He has been given a ringing endorsement by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who sent him a text message after the victory at Old Trafford.
"I've got his number now … I'm going to save it and I might ring him if we win this one," Paine joked.
"He was pretty pumped. [His message was] along the same lines of messages we got from a lot of people back home in Australia – congratulations, everyone's proud of us, Steve Smith's a freak and make sure you finish it off this week.
"All the boys have had a lot of messages from home and a lot of support from back home. You can really feel that through the boys' social media and stuff that’s coming into Cricket Australia. We've been loving the support we’ve been getting back home and we're really thankful for it."
Source: Read Full Article