Eddie Paynter, just 5′ 4” in height weighed only ten stones (64 Kgs.). He was far from orthodox in his approach and his future England teammate, Bob Wyatt, later described him as not a good model for youngsters to watch, before going on to say that he had bags of courage and determination …..and was extremely quick on his feet.
It is the fourth Test of the 1932/33 series for which Paynter is best remembered. Late on the third day, having been hospitalized with tonsilitis he appeared at the ground having been helped to leave his hospital bed by Bill Voce, who was out of the match due to illness. England was in trouble, but Paynter somehow got through the last part of the day and then, despite still being sufficiently unwell to have spent another night in hospital, he went on the next morning to complete a fine 83. Paynter’s efforts gained England a slender lead which, after an Australian second innings collapse, enabled England to win with something to spare, Paynter scoring the winning runs with a six off Tiger O’Reilly.
It was towards the end of the second day that Paynter first told Jardine he felt unwell. He said that Jardine immediately insisted on calling the doctor who sent him off to the hospital. He then went on to say that it was only whilst listening to the commentary with Voce and seeing England’s chances receding with every dismissal, that he decided to “break out” of the hospital. Wyatt tells a different story. According to him, Jardine was livid, convinced that Paynter must have known he was unwell before the game started, and that he sent Voce to get him from the hospital to the ground so that he could bat come what may. The truth perhaps lays somewhere between the two, but given that Voce and Paynter were room-mates, it must be likely that Voce was the source of the infection, and the possibility of Paynter catching the chill Voce had must have been a concern that occurred to a man as thorough as Jardine. He didn’t, however, have a lot of choices, as he was hardly likely to want to play Pataudi, his only batting option. During the fourth Ashes Test at The Gabba from the 1932-33 series, which famously (or infamously, depending on your perspective) went on to be known as the ‘Bodyline series’, Paynter got his name etched permanently in the chronicles of cricket. He went into the match with a sore throat and developed tonsillitis as the match progressed. He was admitted to the hospital, but as his team needed his services, he asked Bill Voce — who was also injured and was giving him company in the hospital — to get a taxi for them to go to the ground at his own risk.
Paynter arrived at The Gabba just when England lost their fifth wicket on 198, still trailing by 142 in pursuit of Australia’s 340. He took a quick warm shower and a diet of eggs, brandy, and champagne, and got ready for taking the field, leaving his team-mates surprised.
Paynter finally fell for 83, helping England cross Australia’s 340. The 16-run lead helped the target to come down to 160 as Australia capitulated meekly in the hands of Larwood and Allen. Once again, as his side was in a spot of bother, Paynter walked out and immediately sealed the matter with 2 sixes, the second of which — off Stan McCabe — brought up the winning runs. The Ashes was regained, rather fittingly, in the hands of Paynter. He returned to the chants of “well done, Eddie” from the crowd.
Mind you, the Series was the infamous Bodyline Series, and the cheering crowd was Australian.