Australia’s captain Tim Paine should be dumped immediately, as the fallout from Australia’s Test series loss to India intensifies ahead of next month’s South African campaign. KEN PIESSE reports:
One of Victoria’s great cricket captains Jack Potter says Test captain Tim Paine should be stood down for behaviour and form issues.
As Australia’s Test selectors consider the make-up of the squad for next month’s three-Test tour to South Africa, Potter says Paine’s contribution in recent years has been overrated.
“I note with some consternation that some commentators have described him as the best that Australia has,” Potter says. “All I can say is that if he’s the best I’d hate to see the rest of them.
“As a former first class cricketer, watching the recent New Year Tests I was appalled by some of what I saw.
“I played many games for Victoria in the 1960s, captaining both Fitzroy and Victoria during this time, including in 1966-67 captaining both Fitzroy to a Premiership and Victoria to winning the Sheffield Shield. Against this experience I was extremely disappointed that Australia could only draw the match with India in the third Test (in Sydney).
“Much of the fault for this, in my opinion, lies with the captain. As well as his on field behaviour being absolutely shocking – talking to the batsman as they were facing up – his team management was also poor.
“All he had to do to win the game in Sydney was to give India a chance of ‘winning’. He did not use his team at all well, and tried to break the back of the Indian team by force and negative tactics.
“Australia won (the opening Test) in Adelaide because their fast bowlers had the advantage of bowling at India on a dreadful wicket. He still tried to remove all their batsmen by getting his fast bowlers to try to frighten them out.
“If he had the courage and captaincy skills, he would have let the Indians know he was going to give them a chance to win. A simple plan would have been to get his fast bowlers to bowl to an off side field with 2 slips and a gully with a couple in the covers, they could have dismissed them.
“By bowling accurately to a plan, scoring runs on the offside with accurate bowling, batsmen would have got out probably caught in the slips or behind the wicket. Given the chance to win, Australia would be most likely to dismiss Indian batsmen by letting them play their strokes, trying to pierce the off side field.
“Captains that I played under – Sam Loxton, Lenny Maddocks and BillLawry in particular – would never allow this to happen. As a captain the only talking that I would allow my team was positive language like ‘well played’ or ‘good shot’.
“Paine also kept wickets poorly. The two great wicket keepers I played with – Wally Grout and Ray Jordon – almost never dropped routine catches.
“Paine is probably a better batsman than Grout or Jordon, but his wicketkeeping needs to improve drastically. If this is the best keeper Australia can find, they should get one who concentrates on his keeping and not wanting to carry on with the opposition batsmen. In short, his display behind the stumps and his tactics to dismiss the Indian team left a lot to be desired.
“If I was a selector for Australia now, Paine would not be in the team. This is after all first-class cricket, not schoolboy cricket.”
In addition to being Australia’s 12th man three times in 1963 and 1964, Potter was the inaugural head coach at the Australian Cricket Academy in the late 80s, his wise counsel and revolutionary coaching methods helping the advancement of youngsters like Justin Langer, Shane Warne and Michael Bevan.
Potter’s autobiography Born Lucky is soon to be released by cricketbooks.com.au
KEN PIESSE has covered cricket and football for more than 30 years in Melbourne. Despite that setback, Ken has written, published and edited 86 books on cricket and AFL football to become Australian sport’s most prolific author.
His latest cricket book is David Warner, The Bull, Daring to be Different with Wilkinson Publishing, out now