Australian wicket keeper Tim Paine’s rise this Ashes series

Australian wicket keeper Tim Paine turns 33, in a statistical quirk that only really makes sense in the language of cricket his test batting average is also 33 (33.45 to be precise).

For a batsman to have an average the same as his or her age is not necessarily the greatest of indicators for players usually peak when they are in their early 30s and a batting average north of 40 is considered the benchmark of a really good player.

But for Tim Paine his stocks are altogether on the rise. He arrived in his home town of Hobart for some brief downtime in between the 2nd and 3rd Ashes tests, time when he will no doubt contemplate the fairy tale nature of his return to the pinnacle of the game and also cricket’s unforgivingly fickle nature.

This time seven years ago he was nursing a recently broken finger sustained in a pre-season 20 over game. In his most dire scenarios he couldn’t have imagined that injury would severely disrupt a crucial and potentially very productive phase of his career and would push him to the brink of retirement. That’s the way things panned out as comeback after comeback was stalled by the increasingly brittle right index finger’s inability to heal. Despite his best attempts to be philosophical about the injury and acknowledging the fact that many people suffer worse fates his lost years must have been a time of great personal torment.

But with numerous operations behind him and the troublesome digit finally stable the affable cool headed apple islander gradually gathered more game time and gave cricket followers and observers, (critically the national selectors) time to reacquaint themselves with his elite skills and unflappable temperament.

Before anyone knew it his name was back on the list of those chosen to wear the baggy green in the first test of the Ashes series. Regardless of the fact that many followers and critics thought the selection questionable and lacking a compelling statistical case Paine’s return to the test side was a remarkable change of fortune for a player who’s career had seemingly been ruined by injury.

The twists and turns of fate aren’t lost on anyone who follows the game. Standing beside Tim Paine for the first two tests of this series was his skipper Steve Smith who debuted in the same game against Pakistan at Lords in 2010. A point at which the two players career paths began to diverge.

As he spends time at home this weekend amidst some birthday celebrations, Tim Paine will no doubt rest his body and soul and also that problematic finger before getting on a plane and heading to Perth (the scene of his only first class century) for the third test. On the flight west there’ll be more time to ponder the passing of the years and the cricketing fate that lies ahead of him.

Photo Courtesy of http://www.cricket.com.au

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