Paine’s slick glovework a timely reminder
IT WAS the stumping that polarised one debate but crystallised another.
Many felt Moeen Ali had every right to feel unlucky at having his pocket picked by Tim Paine, however, the dramatic turning point in the first Test was undeniably a moment of affirmation for Australia's new wicketkeeper.
The lightning piece of glovework from Paine to whip the bails off like he was flicking a light switch, backed up National Selector Trevor Hohns' explanation that Australia has picked the country's best keeper and left England virtually dead in the water.
Whichever way you looked at it, the stumping was as close as it gets and one of the key moments of the Test as England set Australia just 170 to win.
Ex-greats Ian Healy and Michael Clarke reckon the benefit of the doubt should have gone with Ali due to the inconclusiveness of the replays.
"I disagree with that decision, Heals," Clarke said on Channel Nine.
"I thought he had something just behind the line and I thought the benefit of the doubt had to go to the batsman. That's a huge wicket."
Shane Warne, Michael Slater and Michael Vaughan went the other way and felt there was no doubt at all.
"There is not enough reason to do anything other than give that out," said Warne.
"I don't think he had anything behind the line whatsoever."
Social media went into meltdown analysing the thickness and apparent wonkiness of the line, which ground staff quickly repainted at the next drinks' break.
"We also reckon it is the thickest crease line that we have ever seen," commented Vaughan.
Like good football referees and umpires, the mark of a good keeper is you barely notice they're there.
Aside from a first innings drop off Nathan Lyon that he'd love to take back, Paine has gone about his business so efficiently it was as if he were invisible.
But Paine took centre stage on Sunday at the Gabba to offer a timely reminder of his silky skills and at the same time break the partnership England was relying on to create Ashes history in Brisbane.
Ali was starting to bruise the scoreboard with six boundaries in his 40 off 64 balls, and alongside Jonny Bairstow (42), the pair had the chance to push Australia and their bowlers to the brink.
Enter Lyon and Paine with the one-two combination to drag Ali forward and then pick his back pocket like a thief in the night.
It was faultless stuff from Paine's perspective.
The 32-year-old's golden run continued a short time later when he was the only person in the stadium to hear the tiny nick Stuart Broad got off Mitchell Starc.
Paine went up like he'd won the lottery, and his captain Steve Smith immediately backed him in for a genius review.
The bizarreness of Australia's selection policy to pick a keeper for an Ashes series not even wearing the gloves for his state means he will remain under constant examination.
However, yesterday's magic stumping proved the spotlight he might be under has nothing to do with his natural ability and class.