It’s not just the tactics and dropped catches of Paine that have come under the scanner. His on-field behaviour in the drawn Sydney Test has received a lot of flak.
Giving a clear indication that he was feeling the heat, Paine stepped in to address the early morning virtual media interaction that was supposed to be attended by Nathan Lyon. In the interaction, Paine used the word ‘disappointing’ umpteen times to explain his conduct and owned up his mistakes in Sydney.
“I am someone who prides myself on the way I lead this team and yesterday was a poor reflection. I let the pressure affect me. I think I felt short of my own expectations. I said to our players yesterday I have had a poor game as a leader. I let our group down. I am human. I want to apologise for the mistakes I made. My leadership wasn’t good enough. It’s not the way I want to lead this team.” said Paine.
The Aussie skipper had said before the third Test that things were ‘going to boil over the surface’ in Sydney. His verbal altercation with Ravichandran Ashwin on Day 5 reminded one of that. However, Paine clarified he had tried to address the issue soon after the game with the Indian off-spinner.
“I spoke to him (Ashwin) really quickly after the game yesterday, as I said to him, look I ended up looking a fool, didn’t I? You open your mouth and then you drop a catch and had a bit of laugh about that and everything was fine,” explained Paine, who grassed three chances in India’s second innings.
The 36-year-old was pitchforked into Test captaincy role in 2018 to give Australian cricket an image makeover after the blot of the ‘sandpapergate’ scandal in South Africa. However, his demeanour in Sydney left a lot to be desired and suggested that the Aussies were returning to their old habits.
Several former cricketers condemned Paine’s conduct in the third Test with former Indian skipper Sunil Gavaskar even going to the extent of saying he won’t be surprised if there was a change of guard in Australian cricket.
However, Paine made it clear that he has not even given it a thought.
“When you perform, like the way I did, you expect criticism. The intensity of the series took myself out of my character. Yesterday, there was a blip on the radar. The important thing is to reflect where I went wrong,” Paine acknowledged.
Though he will not admit it, Paine knows his job is on the line. An unfavourable Gabba result will confirm his fears.