Australian skipper Tim Paine has opened up on the mental toll of his first tour in charge following the ball-tampering scandal and revealed the simple method he has employed to help stay relaxed and sharp behind the stumps.
Lauded for his humility after taking the top job during the doomed tour of South Africa, Paine quickly found himself under scrutiny as Australia slumped to a 5-0 whitewash during the one-day international tour of England.
Already juggling responsibilities as captain and wicketkeeper, Paine was also having to deal with the fallout from the crisis in Cape Town which led to heavy suspensions for Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft.
“I think in England one thing I learned was I probably trained too hard and tried too hard,” Paine said in Abu Dhabi ahead of the second Test against Pakistan.
“I was getting into games quite mentally worn out, I guess.
“I was using quite a lot of energy even when I wasn’t at the cricket. So it’s just being able to relax a little bit more and not train as hard.”
Australia were forced to spend 222 overs in the field during the drawn first Test against Pakistan in Dubai where the temperature rarely dropped below the high-30s.
Remarkably, Paine was still able to back up and score a pivotal unbeaten 61 to lead a remarkable Australian fightback and keep the series alive.
The Tasmanian said he had changed little in his preparation, honing his catching by replicating former Test wicketkeeper Ian Healy and throwing a golf ball against a wall.
“I do a lot of work at home by myself with a golf ball and I just find that that’s been the best way for me to prepare,” he said.
“I’ve wicket-kept a lot over the years so I know if my body and head are in a good position, I’ll catch more than I drop.
“A lot of the time at Bellerive I just go up the back of the grandstand by myself for an hour or two just banging the golf ball up against the wall.
“It’s pretty boring but in some weird way I really enjoy it. I find it relaxes me as well and allows me to go into a Test knowing I’m in a good place.”