Australia skipper Tim Paine has come out in defence of suspended opener David Warner, saying reports of him being on the outer of the playing group were “off the mark”.
Paine’s comments come after leading cricket writer Robbert Craddock questioned whether David Warner could come back into the Australian side when “half the players can’t stand him”.
However Paine said that assessment was “really unfair” on the fiery batsman.
“I certainly like Crash Craddock’s writing and when he’s on TV I’m a fan of his,” Paine said.
“But I thought he was a little bit off the mark there and really unfair on David Warner as a person and as a cricketer.
“David is someone who’s certainly highly competitive on the field and sometimes that can rub people and oppositions up the wrong way.
“But within our team he’s someone with that energy and competitiveness that we love playing with.
“They were disappointing comments and it’s not the way David is held within our team.
“There’s a side of David that people don’t know – he’s very loyal and really caring and a good team man to have around.”
Paine also denied that Warner was ever on the outer of the group during the turbulent ball-tampering scandal in South Africa.
“There was maybe a day or two there where guys were in and out of the investigation,” he said.
“And when you come home, that’s the way it is in Australia; we live all around the country. But I know the guys have kept in touch via texts or phone calls and that’s something we’ve got to continue to work on.
“The week in South Africa was really difficult, everyone said that.
“But guys in that team get along well and David is a respected member of that team, he always has been. As long as I’ve been around the team he’s been really well liked and really well received by his teammates.”
Craddock ignited the debate earlier in the week by declaring Warner was well and truly on the outer of the playing group.
“For me his biggest issue is David Warner,” Craddock told SEN Radio on Monday.
“Langer wants mateship in the team and I don’t believe mateship and Warner are compatible, because half the players can’t stand him, they contacted Cricket Australia saying they didn’t want to play with him again.”
Warner was spotted drinking by himself in a bar during the fallout of the cheating scandal in South Africa in March, which Craddock said was because of a rift between the opener and senior members of the team.
“It’s not their decision but that’s the vibe,” Craddock said.
“If he wants cultural shift how do you have cultural shift and Warner in the same team? That’s my question.
“A lot of people (say) ‘If you took Warner out of the team ‘Guess what? All your behavioural problems are solved aren’t they?
“But who are the other trouble makers in the team? Is there another one?”
Meanwhile, Paine expects a torrid reception from England fans and the media during next month’s one-day international tour.
“It’s certainly going to be raised. The English are going to be basking in the glory of what’s happened,” he said in Hobart on Thursday.
“Guys are certainly going to have to be ready for that.
“If we can play well as a team and show we’re moving forward then hopefully the talk around that stuff will die off.”
Paine said he’d only been given the nod as interim ODI skipper for the England tour – a decision made for continuity as the team looks to rebuild its culture under new coach Justin Langer.
“I certainly wasn’t expecting to be part of the one-day set-up going forward – that was sort of the information I was given,” he said.
“My goal is to make it last. I want to be involved in the World Cup if I possibly can.”
Paine has previously pledged Australia would tone down sledging on his watch and indicated a pre-game handshake would be offered to England.
“There’s going to be times where it does get heated. We’ve just got to make sure we’re doing the right thing at all times,” he said.
D’Arcy Short and Shaun Marsh are in line to open in the absence of suspended top-order batsmen Dave Warner and Steve Smith.
Paine expects to bat at No.7, with rookie Alex Carey in the 15-man ODI squad as back-up wicketkeeper.