Tim Paine showcased his skills as the leading gloveman in the world on a bitter-sweet second day’s play in the Boxing Day Test match in Melbourne. KEN PIESSE reports:
Those arriving at midday to the MCG on Day 2 of the Christmas Test missed the catch of the season – so far.
Tim Paine’s full length dive to catch Cheteshwar Pujara in his outstretched right glove was a blinder, as good a wicketkeeper’s catch as I’ve seen.
On a bitter-sweet day for both Paine and Australia, with India seizing the ascendancy even without its champion Virat Kohli, the inspired dive by Paine was all part of his momentous second coming.
On a day in which he gathered his 150th dismissal in his 33rd Test, equaling the record of the South African Quentin De Kock, Paine enhanced his status as the game’s most assured gloveman.
But as invariably happens for even the game’s elite, it’s impossible to be perfect.
Paine had earlier dived to his right and fumbled what would also have been a magnificent catch from rookie opener Shubman Gill.
And then as Australia took the second new ball, the opportunity was squandered to dismiss India’s Ajinka Rahane when an edge went between Paine and Steve Smith, standing deliberately wider at second slip. Given his time again, Paine would have gone for it, but misjudged the angle and his field placing.
But back to that catch…
It was inspired and instinctive and a bonus for Pat Cummins who had consistently caught edges only for several catches to fall short of first slip.
Past wicketkeeping greats from Gilchrist and Grout to Marsh and between-the-wars master Oldfield would have been ecstatic to have taken such a catch.
At 36, Paine is in the form of his life, having also been man of the match in Adelaide.
Having dropped five catches, including one from the final ball of the day, Australia has squandered the opportunity to really push the Indians, but the Paine catch will give him a special glow for many days to come.
KEN PIESSE has covered cricket and football for more than 30 years in Melbourne. Despite that setback, Ken has written, published and edited 86 books on cricket and AFL football to become Australian sport’s most prolific author.
His latest cricket book is David Warner, The Bull, Daring to be Different with Wilkinson Publishing, out now