India vs Australia: ‘Ended up looking a fool, didn’t I,’ says Tim Paine

Updated on Jan 13, 2021 09:01 AM IST

Tim Paine's plan crumbled as he was picked up on stump mic having a go at Ashwin, who in turn, held up play several times in retaliation.

Australia captain Tim Paine looks on(Getty)
Australia captain Tim Paine looks on(Getty)
By, New Delhi

The stalemate in Sydney forced by India’s tactical acumen and a show of steel on the final day has left Australia reeling. The spotlight is on skipper Tim Paine who dropped three catches and sledged R Ashwin who along with Hanuma Vihari produced a defensive batting master class over the final two sessions.

Cricket Australia (CA) made Paine skipper in early 2018 in the aftermath of the “sandpapergate” scandal that led to bans for incumbent Steve Smith and his deputy David Warner. Paine’s keeping wasn’t really fit to command a regular spot, but his leadership was seen as essential to lift the team’s standard of behaviour to what CA termed “elite honesty”.

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On Tuesday all that crumbled as Paine was picked up on stump mic having a go at Ashwin, who in turn, held up play several times in retaliation.

Embarrassed, CA got Paine to front up to the media on Tuesday, where he offered an apology for his on-field behaviour.

“I think it was important to address some things from yesterday,” he said. “I want to apologise for the way I went about things yesterday. I’m someone who prides themselves on the way I lead this team and yesterday was a poor reflection of that.

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Paine saying Ashwin wasn’t popular in the Indian dressing room and was unwanted by IPL teams, and calling him a “d***head", have been slammed by former players, including those commentating on the third Test on television. It also kicked up a social media storm.

Paine could be seen reaching out to Ashwin moments after the draw.

“I spoke to him really quickly after the game yesterday, as I said to him, ‘I ended up looking a fool, didn’t I’? You open your mouth and then drop a catch, you are going to be laughed about that. I think the relationship between the two teams has been great, there is healthy respect. It has been competitive and all said and done, the spirit of this series being played 99 per cent of the time has been excellent.”

Paine said he has told “JL (coach Justin Langer)" that his leadership affected the team. “My leadership wasn't good enough, I let the pressure of the game get to me, it affected my mood and then from there affected my performance. Yesterday, when I came off the ground, my reflection was purely on my wicket-keeping. Sitting back last night and reflecting on the whole game, I said to our players yesterday I’ve had a really poor game as a leader, not so much as a captain but certainly as a leader."

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Paine was asked about his sledging Virat Kohli on the 2018-19 tour. “I called him a big head, definitely, two years ago. I am not muddled at all about where the line is, firmly understand where it is. I think in the last two-and-a-half years I have done a good job of leading this team. Yesterday was a bit of a blip on the radar; so, again, I need to learn from it. I understand people are listening and there is a fine line between going too far and being competitive. I am just disappointed the way I handled the moment,” he said.

The row with Ashwin came after Paine had been fined 15% of his match fee and had apologised for using abusive language at umpire Paul Wilson over a decision.

“Quirky” Smith

Smith’s behaviour too is under fresh scrutiny after he was caught on the stump camera on Monday scratching with his boot at the crease, this while shadow-batting left-handed, during the drinks break. Pant returned and had to take fresh guard—the line that batsmen mark to take their stance.

Paine defended Smith against any accusation of gamesmanship, putting it down to the player’s quirky behaviour. “I’ve asked Steve about it and he is really disappointed the way it has come across. If you watch Steve Smith play cricket, that is something he does every single game five or six times a day. He is always standing in the crease shadow batting… he is certainly not changing guard. I would imagine if he was, the Indian players would have kicked up a stink at the time…” said Paine.

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    N Ananthanarayanan has spent almost three decades with news agencies and newspapers, reporting domestic and international sport. He has a passion for writing on cricket and athletics.

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