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India vs Australia: ‘Still Going to Play Hard’ – Paine Rejects Clarke’s Australia Criticism

Cricketnext Staff | Updated: November 28, 2018, 5:19 PM IST
India vs Australia: ‘Still Going to Play Hard’ – Paine Rejects Clarke’s Australia Criticism

Australia Test captain Tim Paine has rejected former skipper Michael Clarke’s criticism that the current outfit are trying too hard to be liked, stating that the focus is on regaining the trust of the Australian public and not being "liked" by the opposition.

"No one has spoken about being liked, certainly by the opposition. We've spoken about wanting to get the Australian public's trust and make sure that clearly you want the Australian public and cricket fans to like or love the Australian Test team,” Paine told ESPNcricinfo.

“Certainly there's that aspect, but from an opposition perspective we're not concerned about being liked one bit. We're still going to play hard Australian cricket, as Michael put it, that's not going to change.

“Clearly Johannesburg was a really strange circumstance and a difficult game to play in for everyone I think, but going into Dubai the guys competed as hard as they could and they'll continue to, and we've got some more senior guys coming back now.”

"With Hazlewood, Starc and Cummins, that's only going to help guys grow with confidence around them. With guys like Travis Head and Marcus Harris, when you've got Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc and Patrick Cummins running in, it's a bit easier to play that confident, aggressive style of cricket that Australia want to play and our team certainly wants to play."

Clarke had been scathing in his assessment of the attitude of Paine’s team, bluntly stating that they "won't win s**t" by "worrying about being liked".

His take was later shut down by former Australia international Simon Katich, who believed Clarke missed the point, especially after the fall-out of the Newlands ball-tampering scandal.

Paine further agreed with limited-overs skipper Aaron Finch, who had recently spoken about the difference between playing hard cricket and resorting to verbal attacks as an easy option.

"I totally agree and I think that's one of the small tweaks we're trying to make. I think there's been times in the past where we've gone overboard with that and actually gone away from what we're good at.

“Our No. 1 strength is our skill, so we've got to play hard cricket in terms of making it difficult for guys to bat against us and too difficult to bowl against us - we want to make it an uncomfortable environment for people to play against us, but we want to do it mainly by our skills.”

"At the same time we're going to be up and about and playing that tough, competitive Australian brand of cricket that Australia's always been renowned for, it's just knowing at times we might need to pull it back and make sure we're getting the most important thing right first, and that's our skill."

Paine also said that he would give his teammates the freedom to choose whether or not they wanted to engage in verbal spars with the opposition but noted that his side would not back down if India’s players decide to engage in it during the upcoming Test series.

"It depends on the individual. I know some guys enjoy it, [to] some guys it doesn't matter. In Test cricket and with some of the guys in the Indian side there's going to be times where there's a bit of heat out in the middle, and guys are going to be right into the contest.

“The focus for us has got to be on delivering our skill as well as we possibly can, so if guys want to get involved in a bit of that stuff to get themselves going, then that's great.”

"But we now know the difference between what's right and what's wrong, and what's expected. We're not going to be going over the top, but certainly you've got to stand up for your team and your teammates, and I'm sure when the time comes for that we'll be doing that. But the main focus for us will be to play the best cricket we can."

The first Test between India and Australia gets underway from December 6 at Adelaide.
First Published: November 28, 2018, 5:19 PM IST

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