Paine says Australia’s home summer may be his last

Updated November 19, 2019

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Paine, who turns 35 next month, was named captain after former skipper Steve Smith was handed a one-year ban in March 2018 for ball tampering. — Reuters/File
Paine, who turns 35 next month, was named captain after former skipper Steve Smith was handed a one-year ban in March 2018 for ball tampering. — Reuters/File

BRISBANE: Australia’s Tim Paine has said the upcoming Test series against Pakistan and New Zealand may be the last time he captains the side at home as he enters the twilight of his career.

Paine, who turns 35 next month, was named captain after former skipper Steve Smith was handed a one-year ban in March 2018 for ball tampering and the wicket-keeper became the first Australian captain after Steve Waugh to retain the Ashes.

Smith’s explosive return to the Test side, where he scored 774 runs in the Ashes, triggered calls to restore him as captain and Paine said talk about who eventually takes over was bound to happen, especially considering his age.

“It might be [my last summer], I’m not too sure,” Paine told reporters. “But... I’m enjoying doing it. I feel good physically [and] mentally. So while that continues, I’m scoring enough runs and keeping well enough then I’d like to continue.

“I know when you get to my age that can change really quickly. I’m really looking forward to this summer, beyond that I haven’t looked too far. I know what I want to do and what I want to achieve.

“I think when you’re the Australian captain and the Australian keeper, they’re two of the most critiqued roles in Australian sport and at the moment I have to hold them both. I know I’m going to be in the crosshairs for people all the time.”

Paine said Australia’s top priority now was to return to the top of the Test rankings and win the World Test Championship (WTC). Australia are ranked fifth in the world and trail leaders India by 244 points in the WTC standings.

“Our goal is to get back to that number one ranking and we want to win that Test Championship,” he added. “To do that we’re going to have to be good enough to win in India and we’re going to have to be good enough to beat everyone, everywhere.

“It’s the only way we’re going to get to where we want to get to. It’s an exciting period and I’m looking forward to being part of the start of that and there is no end point at the moment.”

SKIPPER SLAMS STOKES

Meanwhile, Paine blasted England all-rounder Ben Stokes for taking a “cheap shot” at David Warner, claiming he was using the controversial opening batsman to spike sales of his new book.

In his book, which is being serialised in a British newspaper, he claims Warner’s sledging motivated Stokes during his match-winning heroics in the third Ashes Test this year.

Stokes’s incredible unbeaten 135 at Headingley steered England to a record run chase and thrilling one-wicket win to square the five-match series at 1-1.

“He just wouldn’t shut up for most of my time out there,” Stokes said of Warner, who insists he has reformed and is no longer the brash character who was banned for a year over a ball-tampering scandal.

“I could accept it from just about any other opponent. Truly. Not from him, though,” Stokes added.

“The changed man he was adamant he’d become, the one that hardly said boo to a goose and even went as far as claiming he had been re-nicknamed ‘Humble’ by his Australia team-mates, had disappeared.”

Paine disputed the characterisation and was adamant Warner did nothing wrong.

Asked if it was a cheap shot by Stokes, Paine replied: “Oh absolutely.

“I was obviously standing next to David the whole time [at first slip] and you are allowed to talk on the cricket field,” he told reporters on Sunday.

“But by no means was he abusing him or sledging him. It just seems to be a common trend in England that they like to use Davey’s name to spike book sales.”

Published in Dawn, November 19th, 2019