Weekend Interview: David Paynter - proudly filling the shoes of a famous old name

Spotting a gap: Former Yorkshire Academy product and Northamptonshire first-teamer David Paynter, the great grandson of Bodyline hero Eddie, has designed a revolutionary new cricket shoe which has been endorsed by the likes of Ashes-winning England captain Michael Vaughan and Graeme Swann and which could make things more comfortable on the county circuit.

Spotting a gap: Former Yorkshire Academy product and Northamptonshire first-teamer David Paynter, the great grandson of Bodyline hero Eddie, has designed a revolutionary new cricket shoe which has been endorsed by the likes of Ashes-winning England captain Michael Vaughan and Graeme Swann and which could make things more comfortable on the county circuit.

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DAVID PAYNTER could not be more physically different to his famous great-grandfather.

“He was about five-foot two, and I’m six-foot one,” he says. “He was a left-hander, and I’m a right-hander.”

He mulls on this for a moment before adding, with razor-sharp wit: “There must have been a milkman around somewhere, I think.”

His great-grandfather was none other than the Lancashire and England batsman Eddie Paynter.

As any cricket buff will know, Paynter’s finest hour was during the Bodyline series of 1932-33.

Hospitalised with acute tonsillitis, he left his sickbed to play an heroic four-hour innings in Brisbane to rescue Douglas Jardine’s men from 216-6, helping them overhaul Australia’s first innings 340 with a brilliant 83.

Later, Paynter hit the six that won the match and regained the Ashes, thus ensuring his place in sporting folklore.

“Sadly, I never met my great-grandad,” says David.

“He died a couple of years before I was born.

“But I’m immensely proud of him and the family name.

“It’s a famous name and an old one – it was way back, of course, when my great-grandad played – but it still gets brought up every now and then.

“We’ve still got bits of memorabilia and lots of nice pictures, and my grandad got the ball that was hit for six.”

The family name might have resonated more loudly before the war, when Eddie Paynter scored the vast majority of his 20,000 first-class runs, but it is one that David Paynter is keeping in the spotlight.

Having played first-class cricket himself in the form of five games for Northants in the early 2000s, after coming up through the ranks at Yorkshire CCC and the Yorkshire Academy, the former batsman has now turned his talents to cricket shoe design.

The result is the Payntr X Shoe, a product born of his own dissatisfaction with what he describes as “the limited range and effectiveness of cricket shoes during my own playing career”.

The Payntr X Shoe – proudly endorsed by well-known former players such as Michael Vaughan and Graeme Swann, and fast winning the approval of current ones such as Liam Dawson and Ben Duckett – claims to be the first to “combine the power of a cricket spike with the pace and comfort of a running shoe”.

As Paynter explains: “I don’t know if a lot of people know, but very often professional cricketers would buy their favourite pair of trainers – Adidas, Nike, or whatever – and send them straight off to a cobbler, who would sand down the sole, take all the grip off and stick on an artificial sole that the spikes then embed in.

“Basically, instead of having traditional cricket shoes that are often heavy and unyielding, hampering your agility, it meant that you could play cricket in your own trainers.

“But it’s expensive to do it like that and I just thought: ‘Why don’t I make a ready-made trainer/cricket shoe?’

“We’ve only been launched a week, but we’ve been inundated with interest from cricketers at all levels, while we’ve also been approved by the Professional Cricketers’ Association to supply to the professionals along with Adidas and New Balance.”

To have the PCA’s support is a big step for Paynter, who turns 36 on Wednesday and works from an office in Bradford.

A warehouse space near Leeds-Bradford airport is in the pipeline, along with “a totally different kind of cricket sock” as the business expands.

Paynter’s story is interesting, not least because many ex-players drift out of cricket entirely or else become coaches or go into the media.

After being released by Northants, he spent a decade in the family flooring business before finding a route back into the game.

“Lots of ex-sports people go on to become coaches and managers or pundits, but that wasn’t for me,” he says.

“I wanted to do something radical, something that would really make a difference to other players.

“I spotted a gap in the market, and I’m chuffed to be back involved with the sport.

“You forget how many players you know, people like Michael Vaughan and Graeme Swann, who go out of their way to help you as much as they can.”

Paynter first came across Vaughan at Yorkshire, where the former England captain was one of a galaxy of star names that the youngsters looked up to.

The Yorkshire Academy players sometimes trained with the first team, giving Paynter the chance to rub shoulders with the best.

“We used to do some training with the first team indoors and do some fitness work with them, which was brilliant,” he recalls.

“The first-teamers back then were the likes of Michael Vaughan, Anthony McGrath, Craig White, Darren Gough, David Byas, so we rubbed shoulders with those guys and they were great with us.

“Darren Gough, for example, was such a big name, but he’d been where we were (coming up through the ranks) and he was brilliant.

“He once asked us to carry his England coffin in and we were like: ‘Yeah, we’ll carry it in for you!’

“I remember it had his name splashed all over it and I think he was about to go out for an Ashes series.”

Paynter did a two-year YTS scheme at the club but did not make the progress that he wanted, so went for a trial at Worcestershire.

They liked what they saw but were unable to commit to offering a contract.

“I played for the Worcestershire seconds all year and averaged just short of 50, but when they sacked Bill Athey as coach at the end of that season, they said: ‘Look, Dave, we want to sign you, but we can’t commit to signing you before we sign a coach’, which was then going to be Tom Moody,” he says.

“In the meantime, I’d had an offer from Northants, and I couldn’t hold on because if I had, I could have been left high and dry.

“I took the offer from Northants that was on the table, and I’m glad that I did.”

Paynter played more second team cricket at Wantage Road, where he found himself fighting for a first-team spot with the likes of Mike Hussey, the Australian batsman.

He scored a fifty in one game but had to make way for the next when Hussey returned.

“There’s so much pressure as a fringe player,” he says.

“You feel that you’ve got to perform all the time.”

Now the legendary Paynter name is back in the headlines.

His famous great-grandfather would no doubt be proud.

The Payntr X Shoe is available from www.payntr.com in sizes UK4 to UK11 and in three colourways: rebel red, steel blue and classic white.

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