It is blocked, at present, by Test captain and gloveman Paine, who has led Australia with distinction since last year and whose standing as the nation’s best wicketkeeper was enhanced by an impressive performance at Adelaide Oval, featuring two diving one-handed catches.
Paine, 35 on Sunday, has not put an end point on his career, as he puts it, as the future of the captaincy has become a hot topic in the past four months. As well as he performed behind the stumps and marshalled his team around, there was a reminder in Adelaide of how quickly that scenario could arrive.
The Tasmanian was noticeably feeling the effects of a blow to his finger from the pink ball as he kept wicket but carried on. Fortunately, as he said afterwards, it was a different one than the right index finger that has caused him so much trouble over the years, prompting seven rounds of surgery that previously led him to consider retiring.
Being a wicketkeeper, dealing with the kind of discomfort he experienced in Adelaide, is simply part of the job. And Paine has been stung on his problematic finger since his return to Test cricket two years ago and continued on, including when he was hit by a ball from India’s Mohammed Shami while batting in the first Test in Adelaide 12 months ago.
But the latest mishap was enough for selectors Trevor Hohns and Justin Langer to enquire about Paine’s status on the night Australia beat Pakistan in the second Test. Hohns said on Tuesday it was not a significant issue.
“We checked that of course last night,” Hohns said. “Tim is a tough guy … and most wicketkeepers are, so they give you very little. But at this stage there is no cause for concern over Tim’s fitness.”
Asked about Carey, Hohns said: “I think we’ve shown our hand there with Alex. He’s playing the short form of the game for us. He’s the vice-captain for us. We obviously have high regard for him.”
He is being readied for Test cricket, but for now he will have to wait.