Is this the real reason Shane Warne has it in for Tim Paine?

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Shane Warne (pictured left) during commentary and Tim Paine (pictured right) during a match.
Shane Warne (pictured left) has question team captain Tim Paine's (pictured right) role in the team. (Getty Images)

As one of the greatest bowlers the cricket world has ever seen, Shane Keith Warne was relentless in pursuit of his prey.

Many of his 708 Test victims were out before they made their way to the middle, beaten and broken down by Warne’s hold on them in previous encounters and the verbal taunts that preceded each confrontation.

Warne appears to have adopted the same approach in retirement, relentlessly pursuing current and former players who have wronged him or, in his opinion, aren’t up to it.

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Australian Test skipper Tim Paine is his latest target.

Or, to be more precise, his high rotation target.

The spin great has never been a Paine fan and this week again fired from the hip.

Previewing the upcoming Ashes series, Warne said: "Paine, he's had a shocker the last couple of years as captain, tactically he's been very poor, lost the last two series and can't make a run.”

A quick look through the archives – ok, a Google search – reveals has never really rated Paine.

Here’s Warney unloading in 2018.

“The Australian way is always to pick your best team,” he told Fox Sports News.

“There’s a lot of talk about should Tim Paine be in the side? He’s the captain at the moment.

“We as Australians should always pick our best team and then you pick your captain and vice-captain from that. I don’t think we should just make a captain and then fit a side around him.”

A year later Warne came for Paine again.

Tim Paine (pictured middle) walks off the field with teammates.
Tim Paine (pictuered middle) has drawn criticism for his role as captain since the India Test series defeat. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

“It’s an interesting debate about the Alex Carey package compared to the Tim Paine package,” he said in 2019.

“If Carey is making runs and Paine’s not making runs - 30s or 40s are OK but if he’s making 15s and 20s - all I’m saying is that he’ll feel a bit of pressure if Alex Carey keeps making hundreds and he doesn’t score runs.”

In 2020 he was involved in an on-air stoush with former teammate Mike Hussey over Paine’s place in the side due to his form with the bat.

“It is about his keeping. If he is the number one keeper in the country that is what I think he needs to be picked on,” Hussey argued.

“You can’t afford to miss things behind the stumps. Yes we want him to contribute with the bat as well, but that is a bonus.”

After again pushing for Carey, Warne countered: “So if he (Paine) is not making any runs he can stay in the side because he is a good keeper and captain?

“I think he needs to make runs.”

Tim Paine's record speaks for itself

Well, Paine has made runs but that seems to have conveniently slipped Warne’s mind.

Of Australian wicket-keepers to have played more than 20 Tests, the Tasmanian comfortably sits second behind the incomparable Adam Gilchrist on the list of batting averages.

Better than Ian Healy and better than Rod Marsh – neither of whom had to juggle captaincy duties.

So why the intense dislike from Warne?

As someone with knowledge of the Australian set-up said: “Sometimes you feel it’s a case of him doing someone else’s bidding or saying something enough times that he hopes it’s acted on so he can be vindicated.

“And sometimes it’s to make a headline so we’re talking about him, which we’re doing right now.”

Fair point.

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