According to the Beginner’s Book of Sportspeople’s Truisms, looking any further into the future than the next contest is to risk stumbling over one’s hubris, and landing flat on one’s crimson face.
But Tim Paine, who has already shown himself to be cut from an altogether different cloth than many of his fraternity, admitted today that he’s been actively thinking about this year’s Ashes campaign in the UK for the past six months.
And that he’s delighted that the two-Test Domain Series against Sri Lanka is now out of the way so that he can train all of his energy and expertise on retaining the trophy that Australia has not won on British soil since Steve Waugh’s team did so back in 2001.
Given the other issues to have been loaded upon Paine’s plate in the aftermath of last year’s sandpaper scandal in South Africa, the fact that he found time and inclination to cast his mind to the Ashes a full year – and three complete Test series – before it starts is instructive.
If there was any question about the obsession attached to Australia defeating England on their own turf, Paine put it to rest in the immediate aftermath of his team’s 2-0 thumping of Sri Lanka at Canberra’s Manuka Oval today.
Asked when he envisaged he might allow himself to clear his head of duties just done and turn his thoughts to the Ashes, Paine instantly shot back: “About six months ago”.
Followed by a lengthy pause, just to ensure the gravity of his reply sank in for the gathered media representatives.
“I’ve been dreaming about it actually,” he then went on to say.
“So I’m happy now that we’ve got this out of the way, and we can put everything into it because every Australian cricketer can’t wait to play an Ashes series, and particularly in England.
“It’s something that I’ve certainly dreamed of as a kid.
“I didn’t think that I’d be going over as the captain but in the back of my mind I’ve been thinking about it.
“I’ve been watching England, keeping a really close eye on them (and) I can’t wait to get over there.”
During the course of those ruminations that pre-dated Australia’s 0-1 Test series loss to Pakistan in the UAE, their 1-2 defeat at the hands of India in the preceding Domain Series at home and now the dismissal of a dismal Sri Lanka, Paine has formed some clear ideas.
Among them is a likely squad of 16 or 17 that he will lead for the five-Test battle against the Old Enemy that begins at Edgbaston on August 1, and is scheduled to conclude at The Oval on September 16.
Paine admits that some of the names he has finalised in his head, though not yet committed to paper, might have their order shuffled depending on performances with and against the England-made Dukes ball during the upcoming final rounds of the JLT Sheffield Shield.