Tim Paine: Not soft on Virat Kohli
The Australian cricket team avoids provoking “any fight” with Virat Kohli, Test captain Tim Paine conceded, while asserting that it’s a strategy to keep the Indian captain’s bat quiet, and not a ploy to save IPL contracts as claimed by Michael Clarke.
Paine rejected Clarke’s claims that there was a phase in Australian cricket when the side “sucked up” to Kohli to land fat deals with IPL franchises. “I certainly didn’t notice too many people being that nice to Virat or not trying to get him out or anything like that,” he told ESPNCricinfo.
“I’m not sure who was going easy on him. We certainly had a thing where we didn’t want to provoke any fight with him because we think doing so makes him play at his best.”
On Wednesday, Mike Hussey and Matthew Hayden had told The Telegraph that they disagreed with Clarke’s claim.
India are scheduled to tour Australia from October to January 2021 to play four Tests, three ODIs and three T20Is. “Who knows what will happen in this series and as we saw in the documentary (The Test, streaming on Amazon Prime), there was still quite a lot of heat in some of those games.
“I certainly wasn’t holding back, but again the IPL is not a huge draw for me at the moment, so I had nothing to lose,” Paine said.
In November 2018, Clarke had slammed attempts to improve Australian cricket’s image owing to the infamous ball-tampering scandal, saying the team “won’t win a game” by “worrying about being liked”.
Paine said verbal wars cannot win matches unless one displays the requisite skills on the field. “What you say on the field is irrelevant 99 per cent of the time,” Paine said.
Rejecting a one-size-fits-all kind of approach to planning, Paine said strategy has to be formulated keeping the opposition’s strengths in mind.
“As we’ve seen in the last 12 or 18 months, we still do that, we still stick up for each other,” the Test captain said.