Tim Paine has revealed how he began to hate playing cricket and briefly dreaded his Australian recall after his career fell apart and he lost all confidence.
It was only three years ago that Paine was seriously considering quitting first-class cricket before his late career recall and unlikely rise to the Australian Test captaincy.
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But after he was identified as Australia's long-term wicketkeeper when he debuted as a 25-year-old in 2010, Paine broke his thumb in an exhibition match months later.
What followed was years of nerves, broken sleep and frustration as he struggled to rediscover his confidence as a cricketer.
“I got to the stage where I was scared of getting hit, and I just had no idea what I was going to do,” Paine told the new ‘Bounce Back Podcast’.
“Instead of watching the ball I was thinking about getting hit or what might happen. When you're doing that the game becomes very difficult.
“I couldn't score runs for an extended period of time. I couldn't eat, I couldn't sleep. I was so nervous before games. I was horrible to live with.
“I love training for cricket, and I love watching cricket. But when it came to my part in the game I just hated it. I would rather be anywhere else in the world because I was convinced I was going to fail.”
Even Test recall sparked fear for Tim Paine
Paine said the lack of confidence impacted on his life outside of cricket as he became afraid to socialise, before he eventually sought help over the issue with the support of friends.
“I remember times where I was sitting at home and (my partner) would be at work,” Paine said.
“And I would literally sitting on the couch not bawling my eyes out, but I would be crying.
“It was weird, it was really painful. It was hard to explain. I felt like I was letting so many people down.”
Paine’s struggles came as he scored 403 runs at 16.12 in the three Sheffield Shield seasons immediately before his unlikely Ashes recall in 2017-18.
And even then, he admitted he endured an inner turmoil before the first Test at the Gabba and kickstarting the second and more fruitful stage of his international career.
“It went from an amazing feeling ... And then I thought shit, that's not good,” Paine said.
“I'm going to have to bat in front of people and there are going to be millions of people watching on tele.
“And for three or four days after I thought I don't want to do this. This is going to look horrible, I'm going to look like a fish out of water.
“Again, spoke to some people and got that stuff off my chest and I thought bugger it, I'll just make the most of it ... I'm going to enjoy it.”