How Tim Paine stacks up against rival wicketkeepers for the Ashes

Tim Paine had one thing no other wicketkeeper had; it was the ‘C’ next to his name. Now that he doesn’t have the captaincy, Paine is back in the field in his claim on the ’keeping and No.7 batting place in the team for the first Ashes Test.

Paine is still probably the best gloveman in the country but the doubts about his position in the team began the moment he stood down as captain. His glove work against India last summer slipped a bit. The neck surgery and absence of any match play since April cast further doubt on the 36-year-old’s hold on his place.

Tim Paine is still probably the best gloveman.Credit:Getty Images

The field of candidates to wear the gloves at the ’Gabba must include Paine and Alex Carey, one of two glovemen named in the Australia A squad last week. Peter Nevill, the veteran NSW captain, has worn the baggy green 17 times, but like Paine he is 36, probably too old for the selectors to go back to. They would more likely look to the next generation of wicketkeeper-batsmen in 26-year-old Josh Inglis from WA or 29-year-old Queenslander Jimmy Peirson.

Here’s how Paine stacks up against his rivals for the position.

Batting

By raw numbers nothing much really separates the four ‘keepers as batters. They all average low to mid-30s. Paine averages 32.6 at Test level, with nine 50s but is yet to make a Test ton. He made a 50 in his most recent Test, against India. He began that series with a 73 then had a few misses before finishing with the 50 as the tourists clinched the series at the ’Gabba. During the 2019-20 season against New Zealand he was reliable with the bat. In a long first-class career, Paine has only scored three centuries and averages 30, which is slightly less than his Test average.

Alex Carey keeps for South Australia in the Sheffield Shield match against Western Australia last month.Credit:Getty Images

Carey is recognised as the superior bat to Paine. The former GWS footballer-turned cricketer has made five first-class hundreds at 35. He replaced Paine as the ’keeper in the Australian one-day team, where he now averages 36 at a strike rate of 89. He was involved in the third-highest sixth-wicket partnership in an ODI on record when he paired with Glenn Maxwell for a 212-run stand against England in Manchester in 2020.

The first comment on Inglis as a ’keeper is he hits the ball hard. Which is not a comment on his keeping at all. He plays for WA and Perth Scorchers and has shown he can belt the ball. He put his flag in the ground as a potential future Test player last season by making 585 first-class runs, including three centuries. He also made big runs playing county cricket for Leicestershire and earned a place in the 2021 T20 World Cup squad.

Inglis, who was picked alongside Carey in the Australia A squad, is an innovative batsman in T20s who hits the ball to “funny” spots, but he also has a solid first-class record. He averages 34, with three 100s and 12 50s in his 45 matches.

Peirson averages 33 at first-class level but has hit three tons in his 47 matches, including one to start this domestic season.

Jimmy Peirson.Credit:Getty Images

Wicketkeeping

Paine has 150 catches and seven stumpings in Tests. He is still regarded as the best gloveman, largely because he has more experience of five-day conditions than his rivals. He is placed fifth for most dismissals in a Test series for his 25 catches and one stumping in the 2017/18 Ashes series.

With good footwork and soft hands, Carey has been reliable behind the stumps for Australia as the ODI keeper-batter. Had 18 catches and two stumpings in the World Cup in England in 2019.

Peirson has taken 164 catches and made two stumpings in his 47 first-class matches, while Inglis, in almost the same period – 45 first-class games – has 150 dismissals.

Recent Form

Because of his neck injury there is not much to go on for Paine in terms of relevant form.

Carey began the shield season well with a 32 and 66 not out against Queensland, but followed up with a duck, six and seven in his next three knocks. He took five catches in the match against WA.

Inglis hasn’t done much this year. He made a 72 in a T20 game for London Spirit in August, but made just 28 and 13 for WA against SA, with just the one catch.

Peirson began the shield season with a ton against South Australia, but has missed out in three innings in the two shield games to follow. He was busy behind the stumps against WA with four catches and a stumping in the first innings.

Who plays at the ’Gabba?

The numbers alone are inconclusive. If Paine misses out, and that would not surprise given the circumstances of his resignation, his long absence from play and his recovery from neck surgery, then logically Carey would be the man to replace him.

He has not debuted at Test level but he does have significant international experience, which the others do not. He is a versatile bat, who looks elegant but can force the runs at pace.

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