TIM PAINE –
It is amazing how things can change in the space of 12 months.
I would be lying if I said I hadn’t considered walking away from the game.
In fact, this time last year, I had all but decided to relocate to Melbourne and take up a job opportunity with Kookaburra.
It just got to a stage at the end of last year when I wasn’t enjoying my cricket as much.
It wasn’t because I wasn’t playing well, or having mixed emotions – I just wasn’t feeling it for a little bit to be honest.
So when Kookaburra came knocking on my door, it was at the same time I had a one year contract on the table with Cricket Tasmania – I just thought what was the point of hanging around for one more year at state level, when I could get a good career start in an industry I was genuinely interested in.
It seemed like too good an opportunity to pass up, so I was certainly leaning that way until several key changes and appointments at Cricket Tasmania from the CEO to the new coaching staff and high performance team.
I had a number of people in the state body, including Nick Cummins (CEO of Cricket Tasmania) and new Tigers coach Adam Griffith instil a new level of confidence in me going forward, and they were able to put forward a new deal which would keep me in the game for a while longer.
Well, the rest as they say is history.
I just can’t wait until Thursday – when I can walk onto the pitch and let my cricket do the talking.
These past few days has been interesting for me.
My selection into the Australian Test team has come as a surprise to everyone – I only need to pick up a newspaper or flick on the TV to be reminded of that.
But anyone suggesting I ever stopped being a wicketkeeper is way off the mark.
It was only just a month ago that I was in India keeping with the Australian T-20 team.
Any professional sportsperson will tell you – whether you’re a wicketkeeper, batsman, football player, netball player etc. you’re constantly out to perfect your craft and skill.
While I haven’t kept regularly at state level, there hasn’t been a day gone by in my career that I haven’t thrown on the gloves and kept at training or in the nets.
I am, and will always be, a wicketkeeper.
I’m proud and humbled to have been given this massive opportunity by the national selectors, who as of right now see me as the best wicket keeper in the country.
And all I want to do is make Australia proud when the first ball is balled at the Gabba on Thursday.
It has been a busy few days. I had to turn my phone off on Saturday, just so I could have a moment to myself, to take everything in.
Thankfully, I have the most amazing support in my wife Bonnie – who has been a rock by my side through it all.
I’m a better cricketer, and person, because she is by my side.
It’s quite funny, because when I first broke my finger seven years ago was actually the same time when we first met.
I was having to travel to Melbourne quite a lot – where Bonnie was based, and in between my seven surgeries she came into my life.
So I suppose through bad luck with my finger, I had some good luck along the way.
During those two years of rehab, it allowed us an opportunity to spend more time together – she has certainly filled those seven years since with more happier times when my cricket wasn’t going so well.
We have recently welcomed our little girl Milla into the world – I absolutely love being a father.
Because when I get home, I have no choice but to switch off – she requires my full attention.
Having Bonnie as well has been amazing, even if she does struggle with understanding the rules of cricket!
I remember coming home after a shocking day batting for Tassie, and Bonnie asked me how I went – when I said I had scored only four runs she congratulated me on a great game!
She really had no idea sometimes! But I can’t wait to have her and Milla around camp this week, especially to show Bonnie how big a deal these Ashes campaigns are for Australia!
Of course, she hasn’t been the only person by my side.
My mum and dad have been there every step of the way.
And even my Nan – she has come to every game of cricket I have played in over the years.
Even if I played club cricket on a Saturday, she’d be the first person to arrive and the last to leave.
My selection, my comeback, it’s all been for them. I wouldn’t be here without their support and love.
They’ll be on my mind come this Thursday, as well as every other Australian who I’ll be representing.
The great thing is, having kept for the T20 national team last month, I’ve recently played with half the lads and obviously know everyone through the academies, Australia A teams and previous first-grade cricket tournaments.
So it’s made settling into camp all the more easier.
Right now, my mind is solely fixed on the job at hand and staying locked in during the series.
I’m looking forward to pulling on the whites, and doing what I do best, which is wearing the gloves and seeing the ball from behind the stumps.