On Friday afternoon, Tim Paine stood down from the role of captain of the Australian test team after a sexting scandal dating back to 2017 and before he was appointed, became public knowledge.
Whilst Cricket Australia has stated that Paine is still eligible to be selected to play in the Ashes series against England this summer, it would be a shock to many if he was to still feature in Australia’s lineup.
In purely a cricketing sense, the absence of Paine poses two questions for the national selectors just under three weeks ahead of the first test at the Gabba.
Firstly, who becomes Australia’s next captain? There’s only one standout candidate for Australia’s next leader, and that is current vice-captain, Pat Cummins. Who his deputy is is more of a pressing and intriguing question.
Secondly, who replaces Tim Paine as Australia’s wicket-keeper?
There is still a chance that Paine could still be Australia’s wicket-keeper come December 8th, however, his ability has been questioned during his tenure as captain, it has often been said that he wouldn’t be in the test team if he weren’t the skipper.
Not to mention the fact too that he will have played no cricket in the leadup after only recently returning to the training field after neck surgery left him racing the clock to be fit.
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The current leading candidates to become Australia’s next wicketkeeper are the two that have been selected to play in the extended Australia A squad in Alex Carey and Josh Inglis. It is also a possibility that the experienced Matthew Wade could reconsidered coming off the back of his T20 World Cup heroics.
An outside chance to take over from Paine behind the stumps, and perhaps should be more amongst the discussions, is Queensland Bulls keeper, Jimmy Peirson.
Jimmy Peirson was the most prolific run-scoring wicket-keepers in the 2020-21 Sheffield Shield season, averaging 44.67 from nine innings at a strike rate of 63.61 in a team that went on to dominate the Sheffield Shield, becoming the eventual champions.Embed from Getty Images
Peirson has backed up his claim for contention early in the 2021-22 season as well, currently averaging 53 from six innings at a strike rate of 65.11.
His efforts include two centuries this season with Usman Khawaja and Henry Hunt the only other players to have equated as many so far this season, both of which are featuring in the Ashes and Australia A squad respectively.
There’s more to Jimmy Peirson than just an elite wicket-keeper with a strong batting record, however.
What Australia would get by including Peirson in the Ashes squad, is much-needed genuine and natural leadership.
Peirson has been a calm-headed, yet influential figure in the Queensland lineup for years now.
After Chris Lynn stepped down as Brisbane Heat captain, it was no surprise that Peirson was named as his replacement.
Additionally, in 2018, Peirson had played just 16 first-class matches before he was made captain of the championship winning Queensland side in the absence of Usman Khawaja on Australian duty.
Peirson also captained Queensland’s under-19 squad in 2011, leadership is a quality that comes naturally and effortlessly to the 29-year-old.
Heading into the prime of his career, the time is now to introduce Peirson to the national setup, he has the skill to compete, he has the leadership, but he also has the temperament to survive at the highest level.
There is no situation in cricket in which Peirson is too overawed by, in all formats of the game, Peirson has steadied the ship on many occasions when his team needed him to.
Even recently, Peirson aided Bulls opener, Bryce Street, in putting together a 162-run partnership that prevented the Tasmanian Tigers from running over the top of them and forcing a draw when chasing a mammoth total of 500 and being 4 wickets down. Peirson went on to record his first century of the season at a time his team needed more than most.Embed from Getty Images
The final point to be made, is that the first match is at the Gabba. There is no wicketkeeper in the world currently that knows the Gabba better than the way Jimmy Peirson does. The Gabba is the ground that Peirson has built his professional cricketing career on.
Nothing makes more sense than Jimmy Pierson, in his prime, receiving his baggy green at his home ground, in front of his home crowd, on the first morning of the first day of the Ashes.
Test cricket is more than just being the best cricketers in the country, it’s about being the best and keeping your head on the biggest stage.
If there’s any keeper in the country that can be told they’re going to receive their baggy green unexpectedly just three weeks before the Ashes kick off and say ‘Don’t worry, I’ve got this’, it’s Jimmy Peirson. He was made for test cricket.
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