Speculation swirled around Tim Paine’s future as captain of the Australian Test team, but that talk was put to bed on Wednesday when it was announced the 36-year-old would stay on as skipper.
Paine’s tactical nous had been called into question at various points in his tenure as captain, but not more so than during the recent 2-1 series loss to India.
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Australia lost the four-Test series to an injury ravaged Indian side, who retained the Border-Gavaskar trophy and became the first team to defeat Australia at the Gabba in 32 years.
Despite this, Australian selector Trevor Hohns was unequivocal in standing by the choice to stick with Paine as captain for the upcoming tour of South Africa.
“Tim’s leadership in our mind was never in question,” Hohns said after announcing the squad.
“We did not spend one minute on Tim’s leadership during our selection meeting.”
This was evidently not what Michael Clarke was hoping to hear from selectors, with the former skipper suggesting that while Paine wasn’t the wrong choice necessarily, more questions should have been asked about his decision-making on-field.
Clarke suggested the team should be doing more to support Paine in his capataincy decisions.
“Obviously you have to make the team first but then the captaincy, it would have been spoken about,” he said on Big Sports Breakfast.
“My question is - so many past players, so many people - the fans of the game - have questioned Painey’s tactics throughout the series.
“So, you haven’t questioned his captaincy and you haven’t added anyone, whether it is a player or support staff member to the squad to help him with his tactics.
“How does he get better? How does he go to South Africa to improve?
“It seems like that is an area that he needs help, whether it is extra leadership on the field or extra people around him to help him get better. If you keep doing the same thing you will keep getting the same results.
“Is Trevor Hohns saying they thought the tactics were fine and we’ll be right and do the same thing in South Africa but get a different result? If that is the case, I said they missed a few tricks throughout the summer.”
#TimPaine receives strong support from selectors to continue as the captain for #Australia tour of #SouthAfrica. #Paine was facing a lot of criticism after losing home series against #India. #Australia have announced 5 uncapped players in their 19- man squad for SA tour.
— Sreedhar Pillai (@sri50) January 27, 2021
Great to see @tdpaine36 named Captain for S.A tour. I am backing him to have an outstanding series & silence all these social media cricket experts. Alex Carey will get his chance at some point.
— Josh Holt (@JoshHoltTEN) January 27, 2021
What to make of Alex Carey's addition to Test squad?
Purely back-up and there to learn from Tim Paine, or do selectors believe he's ready to take the skipper's place by series end? #SAvAUS
— Paddy Sweeney (@SweeneyPaddy9) January 27, 2021
Matthew Wade axed in brutal fallout to Test series loss
Matthew Wade has paid the ultimate price for Australia’s Test series loss to India, dropped for the team’s upcoming tour of South Africa.
Selectors named five uncapped players in a 19-man squad on Wednesday, however Wade was a major omission.
Wade played in all four Tests against India, scoring 173 runs from eight innings at an average of 21.62.
The middle-order batsman was instead named in an 18-man squad to play five T20s in New Zealand next month.
Wicketkeeper Alex Carey headlines the list of uncapped players in the Test squad, with skipper Tim Paine retaining his spot despite calls for his axing.
Sean Abbott, Michael Neser, Mitchell Swepson and Queensland fast-bowler Mark Steketee are the others.
Wade was thrust into the unfamiliar role of opener to begin the Test series but earned criticism for some loose dismissals as he went 14 innings without a half-century as India shocked the hosts to win the series 2-1.
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