Nine years after his debut at the Home of Cricket, Australia wicket-keeper Tim Paine is all set to return to Lord’s as his country’s captain in an Ashes series.
Paine earned his Baggy Green alongside former captain Steve Smith, then a leg-spinner who batted at No.8, in a neutral Test against Pakistan in July 2010. The 34-year-old returns as a more mature player and person this time around, but the feeling of walking through the gates, he said, remains the same.
"I've been here a number of times since [the debut], but I still sort of remember coming through those gates the first time," Paine said. "It's one of those grounds, you get a similar sort of feeling, whether you've been here 10 times, 100 times or it's your first time. It's just got that sort of feel about it with the history.
“I think it's just a special place to come and play cricket. Everyone, whether you're English or Australian or from anywhere else, you enjoy coming to this ground.
Scenes from this evening’s reception for the Australia men’s squad hosted at Australia House by the Honourable George Brandis QC, the Australian High Commissioner in London #Ashes pic.twitter.com/N2wraLA4kW— Cricket Australia (@CricketAus) August 12, 2019
"I probably know a few more things now than I did then. I know one thing is that I certainly take it in a lot more now, enjoy what I'm doing. I think back then, I put a hell of a lot of pressure on myself to perform. Probably too much. Even though I was young, I didn't enjoy the cricket as much as I did the off field. Now I tend to enjoy the cricket more than I do the off field. So it's a nice place to be."
Looking ahead to the Test itself, Paine said that holding a 1-0 lead does not make Australia’s job any easier, especially with Jofra Archer set to make his much-anticipated long-form debut for the hosts.
Archer is a familiar prospect for many Australian players, on account of his time with Hobart Hurricanes in the Big Bash League. But he remains the biggest threat in the opposition nevertheless, especially after his performance in his rookie World Cup campaign.
"Coming into this series, we knew Jofra was going to be a key player for them at some stage,” Paine said. “We are a bit lucky, given the guys have faced him, albeit in Big Bash cricket. We know how good Jofra is, we know he bowls fast, we know he is very skillful, he is a great asset for them. It's not every day a 6'5 or 6'6 West Indian turns up on your doorstep. We're prepared to play him, it's his first Test match as well, so there is going to be plenty of pressure on him.
"From the time I've spent with him, not much flusters him. He is a pretty laidback character. Test cricket is a different beast, it's up to us to put him under pressure, whether that's physically and making him bowl a lot of overs and make him back up day after day, I think that can test the very best of bowlers."
I think it's just a special place to come and play cricket. Everyone, whether you're English or Australian or from anywhere else, you enjoy coming to this ground.
As for his own career, at 34, this might be the last time Paine steps onto the hallowed turf as a Test cricketer and he reflected on the kind of legacy he’d like to leave behind.
"It's pretty important when you have got any leadership position, whether you are the best player or the most popular player or whatever it is is irrelevant,” he said. “That's not just for sport. Hopefully, we can continue to play a good brand of cricket and keep winning games. Potentially, I think there's no reason why a wicket-keeper can't cut it, he's got the best seat in the house."
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