Former Australian Test batsman Michael Clarke has questioned why national selectors did not discuss Tim Paine’s captaincy following a disappointing Border-Gavaskar Trophy campaign.
Paine faced a flood of scrutiny throughout the recent Test series against India for his inconsistent glovework, questionable field placement and poor use of the DRS.
The Tasmanian wicketkeeper also came under fire following an ugly sledging barrage during the SCG Test, for which he later apologised.
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But despite calls from pundits to start searching for a new skipper, chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns emphasised that Paine’s leadership “was never in question” when choosing the Test squad for the upcoming tour to South Africa.
“We did not spend one minute on Tim’s leadership during our selection meeting,” Hohns told reporters on Wednesday.
“He’s been a terrific leader of this team through some pretty trying circumstances, and some of the criticism he’s endured has been pretty wide of the mark — and in poor taste from some people overseas.
“The criticism of Tim Paine has been totally unfair.”
However, Hohns’ remarks baffled Clarke, who queried why the selection panel would make no effort to improve Paine’s credentials as a leader.
Clarke captained Australia in 47 Test matches, leading the side to an Ashes whitewash in 2013/14 and a thrilling 2-1 series victory in South Africa in 2014.
“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,” Clarke said on Sky Sports’ Big Sports Breakfast on Thursday morning.
“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.”
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Clarke clarified that he had no issue with the selectors backing Paine as Test skipper, but reiterated there was undeniably room for improvement, which shouldn’t be ignored.
“There’s nothing wrong with sticking with Painey. I like him, that’s great, stick with your captain if you think he is the right man for the job,” Clarke said.
“Don’t say nothing’s wrong there. Tactically he missed a few tricks and his keeping was nowhere near as good as what I’ve seen from Painey.
“Give him some help. Allow him to get better in the areas he needs to get better.”
Australia’s Test squad for next month’s South Africa tour was announced on Wednesday, with Matthew Wade brutally axed from the side.
South Australian wicketkeeper and Queensland paceman Mark Steketee were surprise inclusions, while forgotten stars Usman Khawaja and Jhye Richardson missed out.