It was this sort of searing honesty, mixed with plenty of inside cricket stories and great laughs that highlighted the 2018 SACA Members’ Test Match Dinner on Tuesday night.
Paine and Australian coach Justin Langer both emphasised their qualities as leaders, story tellers and good blokes during 15-minute stints on stage with host Hamish McLachlan, leaving the 450 guests in the William Magarey Room at Adelaide Oval enthralled.
The prestigious annual dinner – an exclusive benefit for SACA Members – also featured the hilarious Damien Fleming, recounting the highs and lows of his career like only Flem can, an entertaining and interactive opera trio, and outstanding food and drinks.
Langer had special words for Rodney “Bacchus” Marsh, West Indian quick Ian Bishop (for his chiseled body), Tim Paine (“the toughest pretty boy I’ve ever seen”), Alex Carey (chosen as the most worthy cricketer to marry one of Langer’s daughters) and of course Haydos but it was when he spoke of his love for his current Test team that the crowd couldn’t help but be drawn in for his passion to return Australian cricket to greatness.
Langer said he was intent on blocking out the “white noise” and that the group would “trust what we’re doing”.
Langer said he “had to tell a couple of guys tonight they weren’t in the team” ahead of the opening Test of the series starting at Adelaide Oval on Thursday and may have inadvertently let slip that a player will make their Test debut on Thursday.
“If you’re having arguments it means there’s competition for spots and we’ve had a few of those in the last few days,” Langer said.
“They (India) think they can beat us but we’ve got plenty to play for and we’ll be ready for it.”
Paine began speaking candidly of the unfortunate circumstances that saw him given the sudden captaincy in South Africa earlier this year, and reflected on his own run of outs when he said he had a “crisis of confidence”.
Paine said during the extended time between his two stints in the Test side he had gone through a period where he “wouldn’t have made a run in grade cricket” but started the road to recovery when he met with the Tasmania’s sport’s psychologist and talked about his demons for the first time.
When McLachlan asked Paine to explain the traditional separation of Australian cricketers as “Julios” (taking great pride in their appearance) and “Nerds” (not so careful about physical appearance), Paine revealed he was proud to be a “Julio” (named after Julio Iglesias). He said coach Justin Langer would actually be a life member of the Julios and Shane Warne would have become the president in recent times.
Paine also recounted his careers that didn’t quite take off including a stint playing football that saw him compared to the versatile James Hird, and his three-hour shifts on Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays doing customer service for the Commonwealth Bank.
SACA President Andrew Sinclair welcomed everyone to the event, with a special mention to those who had travelled by train in a thinly veiled reference to the lack of train availability this weekend. He finished by quoting none other than Elvis Presley, calling for a “little less conversation, a little more action”.
The waiting staff appeared to make an unlikely appearance on stage with the microphone until their stunning tenor voices made it clear their talents extended well beyond their SMA uniforms. Mixed with plenty of comedy, ‘The Three Waiters’ belted out the likes of O Sole Mio, while guests waved their napkins above their head in unison. Some even rose to their feet for a standing ovation, such was the response to their performance.
Damien Fleming will make his debut in the Channel 7 commentary box this week and says he will have his eyes peeled for nemesis Shane Warne in the adjoining Foxtel commentary box. Fleming recounted – with visual evidence from 1999 – the time Warne dropped a sitter at first slip that would have given Fleming one of cricket’s rarest achievements, a second Test hat-trick.
No-one went home hungry after enjoying the sous vide lamb for entrée, Atlantic salmon or slow cooked beef fillet as the mains, and a devil’s chocolate mousse cake for dessert.