Paine injury throws captaincy into chaos
Adam Gilchrist says Tim Paine faces an unforgiving workload as the Test skipper battles through the pain of busted fingers, keeping and captaincy of a struggling Australia side.
Paine required treatment after an innocuous blow from Indian speedster Mohammed Shami during the first session of the final day in the first Test at Adelaide Oval.
It was a reminder of the fragility of Paine's battle scarred hands that have required seven operations since 2010.
"I don't like to pigeon hole any player but keeping, captaining and batting, how much can you handle of it in five-day cricket?" 96-Test doyen and Fox Cricket commentator Gilchrist queried.
Alex Carey - who made a ton this week against New South Wales - remains just one Paine injury away from a Test keeping debut. Travis Head - South Australia's youngest captain at 21 - could come from the clouds to lead Australia should Paine be sidelined this summer or beyond.
Usman Khawaja is Australia's only certain batting selection but isn't yet viewed as a captaincy candidate.
Gilchrist recalled the nasty hit from a 150km/h Dirk Nannes thunderbolt in a pre-season Twenty20 game eight years ago that consigned keeper-batsman Paine to years in an injury and confidence sapped wilderness.
"It was up near that first knuckle and cost him a lot of cricket and it was the batting that was the issue," noted Gilchrist.
Mitch Marsh was appointed Test vice-captain but dropped for Adelaide's series opener. Australia would be unlikely to promote fast bowler Josh Hazlewood from co-deputy to captain.
Australian players recently identified Head, Carey, Hazlewood, Aaron Finch and Mitch Marsh as future leaders. The five aspiring leaders presented to a panel including Mark Taylor, Greg Chappell and chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns.
Paine's exit for 41 against Jasprit Bumrah on Monday all but sealed Australia's first Test fate.
Paine missed a clear stumping from Ravi Ashwin on 3 off Nathan Lyon in India's second innings which magnified focus on his responsibility to keep, strategize and bat in a rebuilding side.
"He has a lot on his mind. He would be thinking about declarations, best way to stay in this match. You cannot assume his mind was elsewhere but there is so much to do in first class cricket for a captain," said Gilchrist of 15-Test keeper Paine.
"It was a hard and hot chance but you expect them in Test cricket."
Gilchrist famously captained Australia during a breakthrough Test series win on the subcontinent in 2004 when Ricky Ponting missed the first three matches with a broken thumb. It was no easy feat.
"He is a lovely wicket-keeper, soft hands, relatively new in his Test career," said Gilchrist.
"It was one he wished he would have took and pouched but be able to move on from it."
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