Didn’t get enough runs on the board to put India under pressure: Tim Paine
The best teams will adapt to whatever is thrown at them, says Australia skipper Tim Paine on new rules.Updated: Jun 24, 2020 09:09 IST
It’s been over two years since Tim Paine became Australia captain in middle of the Cape Town Test and was left to handle the raw wounds of what became notorious as the ‘Sandpapergate’ scandal.
Traditionally, Australian captains command respect by weight of their runs. The list of Paine’s predecessors reads as: Allan Border, Mark Taylor, Steve Waugh, Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke and Steve Smith. Paine bats at No. 7, doesn’t have a Test hundred, averages 31 in Tests and his first-class average is even worse. When Rishab Pant teased Paine in the 2018 series, calling him ‘a temporary captain’, the Australian couldn’t reprimand him. Paine, 35, understands the story numbers tell. But he is also aware that without his leadership, Australia wouldn’t have navigated the tumultuous phase arising out of being caught ball-doctoring in South Africa and return to the top of ICC rankings.
In a video call on Tuesday morning, Paine was asked if he would go on longer having had an extended break due to cricket being halted by Covid-19. “Potentially, but again who knows, who knows what’s going to happen next Test or the Test after that,” he said. “I am controlling what I can; I am trying to be as fit and as strong as I possibly can. I am always looking to improve. That won’t change and while I am enjoying it I am going to try and do it for as long as I possibly can. So, I’ve put no end date on it.”
Paine does not mind some chirping in the middle not even when the collective focus is on the Australian team’s behaviour. But unlike past teams, he is smart with his banter. Caught on stump microphones, Paine’s jibes --- at Ross Taylor or Mohammad Rizwan for instance --- are high on humour and never nasty.
On Tuesday, asked whether India or Australia would benefit playing in front of empty stands, Paine said: “Probably me; I’m the only one in the last few years who’s played in front of empty houses. I was doing it a lot in club cricket and Shield cricket two or three years ago.”
Paine and the India-Australia Test series weren’t even supposed to be the talking point this year. In a normal world, IPL 2020 would have happened before the focus shifted to the T20 World Cup in October. The marquee Test series is for December but with the pandemic having its say, it is the only India contest that looks most likely now. “We’re hopeful that everywhere we play, come summertime we’ll be able to have crowds, how big they are we don’t know obviously,” said Paine.
No crowd, no problem
There’s some concern about the virus having resurfaced in Melbourne though. Should that impact the Boxing Day Test Paine said he does not mind a shift in venue. And if Covid -19 forces the series to be behind closed doors, Paine believes the players will adapt. “I don’t think it will affect anyone; it shouldn’t affect anyone. Once you get out there in front of big crowds it very quickly narrows down to what’s happening on the pitch. So while it can be a distraction for those first few balls when you’re out there, I find most players tend to forget the crowds once you’re in the heat of the battle. Crowd or no crowd it’s going to come down to who’s performing and executing their skills better,” he said.
The ban on saliva is also a matter of adapting rather than complaining, said Paine. “The rules have been changed whether you like them or not. So, everyone’s on the same playing field. We’ll focus on what we can control, which is playing as well as we possibly can, and we have to adapt and roll with rule changes because we’re in an interesting time to be living, let alone playing international cricket.”
The Australian team will keep an eye on the West-Indies-England series beginning next month with new playing conditions, Paine said, adding: “The best teams will adapt to whatever is thrown at them.”
With Cheteshwar Pujara’s 521 runs hurting the home side, India made history when they toured Australia last in 2018-19 by winning the Test series. Without mentioning Smith and David Warner, Paine said the hosts will be a different team this time. “We think we’re a better team now than we were then and again, a lot of the time in that last series we didn’t get enough runs on the board to put them under any pressure. We didn’t score a lot of runs in that Test series and weren’t miles away. So, we just feel if we can get some scoreboard pressure on and score the runs we know we need to score to win Test matches then our bowling attack doesn’t let us down.”