Once considered a temporary captain, Tim Paine can lead the Australian Test team for another three years, Aussie great Ian Healy says.
Paine, the 36-year-old wicketkeeper/batsman, was elevated to skipper after the ball-tampering scandal and has been lauded for his leadership.
It was unclear how long his reign might last but having retained the Ashes last year in England and started this summer brightly, Healy believes there is plenty of cricket left in Paine. Even, perhaps, right through until the 2023 Ashes tour.
“I’m expecting him to play for quite long because he started so late – and it looks like he’s in great shape physically and doing it well,” Healy told The Age.
“He’s got a job to do so that will keep him interested, keep him motivated to get that Australian side on top again and in the hearts of Australians.
“He’s led a massive cultural revolution, which has got to be draining, so I don’t have a problem if he does surprise me and finish before I reckon he will because he’s taken on so much, but I think he’s about to reap the rewards and enjoy it a lot more. I’ve got no problems saying three more years.”
Paine has captained Australia in 20 of his 32 Tests. He will have been skipper for nearly 50 Tests if he lasts until the 2023 Ashes tour.
He remains the nation’s sharpest gloveman and he top-scored for Australia with 73 not out in last week’s first Test victory against India, alongside seven dismissals.
Healy worked with Paine before the fourth Test of last year’s Ashes; largely on his batting, with the captain battling at the time. Healy urged his to play with aggression and instinct, as he did in Adelaide.
“All I said to him was just put bad balls away, look for them and put them away. If it’s a clip to leg, clip it hard. If it’s a cut shot, go at it. Bat like a keeper and that’s what he’s done,” Healy told The Age.
Paine has averaged nearly 43 in the eight Tests since his session with Healy. His batting output has been the only element of doubt over his spot in the Australian team and should it remain plentiful, his captaincy reign may indeed endure.