Leading cricket writer Robert Craddock has theorised that Tim Paine’s regrettable actions on the final day of the Sydney Test came about because of a controversial tactic from India.
Paine issued an apology for his conduct at the SCG, admitting he let pressure get to him during the third Test and it affected his mood, captaincy and performance.
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The Australian captain’s antics on the final day of the epic draw made headlines around the world, prompting India legend Sunil Gavaskar to declare the wicketkeeper’s behaviour was unbefitting of a leader and that his “days as captain are numbered”.
Stump microphones picked up Paine calling Ravi Ashwin a “dickhead” during a series of nasty barbs directed at the Indian bowler.
And according to Craddock, Paine may have been angry over a controversial move by the Indians earlier in the day.
A number of Australian commentators were fuming after Rishabh Pant came out to bat at No.5 and blazed a brilliant 97 that eventually helped India stave off defeat.
However the fact that Pant’s injured shoulder had prevented him from taking his place in the field on day four and India had replaced him with specialist keeper Wriddhiman Saha - who took four catches - left many wondering whether Pant should have been allowed to bat.
“I reckon that was the cause of a lot of his unrest,” Craddock told Fox Sports on Wednesday. “Secretly, I reckon he was filthy about that.
“At the press conference he said, ‘Had you asked me last night I’d have given you a different answer’ but because he was throwing rose petals everywhere this morning he had to say, ‘No I didn’t have a problem with it’.
“But you could tell he was masking the fact that yesterday he definitely did (have a problem with it).”
Journalist Peter Lalor led the criticism of India’s tactics with Pant and Saha, describing the apparent rule-bending as “ridiculous”.
“This Rishabh Pant thing, this is just rubbish. How on earth can a bloke be not fit to wicketkeep and you just happen to have an even better wicketkeeper waiting in the cupboard?” Lalor said on SEN radio.
“So the better wicketkeeper goes out there, does the job, pulls off a catch that I reckon nine times out of 10 Rishabh Pant would have dropped, and then suddenly Rishabh Pant is fit enough to bat.
“They’re basically playing with 12 players. Rubbish.
“If you can hold a bat, you can wear a pair of gloves and fumble a few balls like he does on occasion. That’s my point, I find this real ridiculous.”
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Until 2017, a member of the first XI had to take the gloves if the wicketkeeper was injured during a match.
However the ICC changed the rule to allow replacement wicketkeepers to come into the game from outside the XI, while allowing the first-choice keeper to be substituted back in at a later stage.
“I think it was above board but the rule’s too generous for mine, it really is,” Craddock said.
“In 2017 they brought in this rule to allow wicketkeepers to be substituted. Not a problem at all with that, I get it, it’s a specialist position, you don’t want to denigrate the game.
“However, for mine, once you’re out of the game you should be out of the game and Saha, if he’s going to keep, he should have batted.
“For me it should be a fundamental rule, once you’re out of the game, you’re gone. It felt funny.”
Paine, speaking in Monday’s post-match press conference, argued the spat with Ashwin was “all part of the game, no harm done”.
But the 36-year-old was far more contrite on Tuesday morning.
“I'm someone who prides themselves on the way I lead this team and yesterday was a poor reflection,” Paine told reporters.
“My leadership wasn't good enough, I let the pressure of the game get to me.
“It affected my mood and then from there affected my performance.
“I said to our players yesterday 'I've had a really poor game as a leader'.
“I let our group down. I’m human, I want to apologise for the mistakes that I made.”
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