'What a genius': Tim Paine's 'staggering' call that sealed Ashes glory

Chris Young
Sports Reporter

The chaotic end to the third Test at Headingley won’t go down in history as Tim Paine’s finest hour - but the Ashes-sealing fourth Test victory just might.

Australia had dominated at Old Trafford until the fifth day, when a stubborn English tail threatened to bat out a draw.

So potent over the first four days, the bowling attack of Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon, Mitch Starc and Josh Hazlewood simply couldn’t produce a delivery that would befuddle the likes of Jack Leach and Craig Overton.

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With the scars from the third Test still raw, Paine made a bold move instead of retreating from the moment.

The Tasmanian keeper-captain’s call to throw the ball to part-time leg spinner Marnus Labuschagne turned out to be a masterstroke.

Labuschagne managed to get Leach prodding at a ball, which ballooned up and into the hands of Matthew Wade at short leg.

Leach’s wicket was the straw that finally broke the camel’s back, with Overton falling to Hazelwood two overs later to ensure the Urn would return to Australia.

Paine praised for resilience

Heavily criticised after letting the third Test slip, many of Paine’s critics have applauded the Australian for bouncing back in convincing fashion at the earliest opportunity.

On the Channel 9 broadcast, Taylor went out of his way to praise his successor.

"I can't say enough today about Tim Paine, he was terrific," Taylor said.

"He was not bad at Headingley either, but they got the result they deserved."

Taylor later added that Paine had sought him out immediately after the fourth Test heartbreaker.

Tim Paine celebrates after Australia win the fourth Test at Old Trafford, retaining the Ashes in the process. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

“Think back to Headingley. He came straight over to me after that horrendous loss, and he faced it head on," Taylor said.

"He fronted up after that really tough hour, and he's fronted up again today."

"He deserves all the accolades that he's going to get."

Captain plays down crucial call

Despite widespread praise for his impressive turnaround, Paine played down his decision to bring Labuschagne on.

The wicketkeeper said leach’s wicket had been a stroke of luck, but talked up the part-time spinner’s work.

"It was a bit of guess work there, let's be honest!" Paine said.

"No, Marnus has been working really hard on his leg-spin. He wants to be out in the middle, and he wants to be in those big moments."

"If he continues to do that, and continues to improve, he will be a very important cricketer for us for a long time."