Broken thumb can't break Paine's resolve
For a man nursing a broken thumb and captaining a team 401 runs behind‚ Tim Paine was outrageously chuffed with life‚ love and everything else at the Wanderers on Sunday.
“It’s OK; it’s got a little crack in it but I’ve played through worse‚” Australia’s wicketkeeper and captain‚ who was smacked on the right thumb by Chadd Sayers on the second day of the fourth Test on Saturday‚ said after stumps on Sunday — which South Africa reached on 134/3 in their second innings.
“The initial hit hurt‚ and I was hoping that if I gave it five or 10 minutes it might settle down.
“I’ve had my fair share of finger injuries and compared to a couple of them this one isn’t too bad.
“There’s some sort of break in it but it’s all in place‚ which is good.
“Barring another hit in this Test it should be OK.”
Paine knows of whence he speaks‚ having had seven bouts of surgery and three bone grafts on his hands between 2010 and 2017 after being hit on the right index finger by a delivery from Dirk Nannes timed at 148.2 kilometres per hour.
The legacy of all that is still with Paine: he has eight pins‚ a plate and a sliver of his own hip bone helping to keep his hand in one piece.
The injury and its aftermath have forced him to change the way he grips his bat‚ with which he stood firm through five partnerships — including a stand of 99 with Pat Cummins‚ the highest of Australia’s first innings of 221 — for his 62‚ the visitors’ top score.
“It just happens with tails‚” Paine‚ who like almost every Aussie wicketkeeper bats at No. 7‚ said of the part he played in his team’s defiance.
“Sometimes you get knocked over quickly and sometimes‚ like [Sunday]‚ you can dig in and score a few runs.”
Paine and his fellow middle and lower order denizens helped Australia recover from a dismal second day‚ when they wobbled to the close on 110/6 in reply to South Africa’s first innings of 488.
“We were very disappointed with [Saturday] — on effort‚ and we thought our mode of dismissal was pretty poor‚” Paine said.
“We spoke about that [on Saturday night]‚ but also about that in cricket you always get another opportunity; there’s a second innings and another day.”
Ah‚ another day.
In the previous few days‚ when Paine was sat in the hot seat trying to explain how sorry he was that his abruptly removed predecessor‚ Steve Smith‚ along with David Warner and Cameron Bancroft were banned and sent home for ball-tampering‚ he might have wondered if the next day would ever come.
“When some of your best players are not in the side it’s about picking up the slack and trying to get better every day.”
So far‚ so good.