Tim Paine’s days as Australia captain ‘numbered’ due to Sydney Test behaviour, India great Sunil Gavaskar says

India legend Sunil Gavaskar has stepped up his attack on Tim Paine, declaring the wicketkeeper’s behaviour on the final day of the Sydney Test was unbefitting of a leader and that his “days as captain are numbered”.

Paine’s antics on day five of the third Test, and those of some teammates, made headlines around the world, after an epic draw at the SCG.

Stump microphones picked up some barbs that Australia’s skipper, who has helped turn around the team’s image after the Cape Town cheating scandal, directed at India veteran Ravichandran Ashwin during the 122nd over of the stonewall.

The conversation started as friendly banter, with Paine telling Ashwin, “I can’t wait for you to get to the Gabba”, referring to the fourth Test in Brisbane, where Australia has not lost since 1988.

The Indian veteran responded: “Just like we want to get you to India. It’ll be your last series.”

Paine then replied, “at least my teammates like me, dickhead”, and boasted of having “more Indian friends than you do”.

“Even your teammates think you’re a goose. Don’t they? Every one of them,” he told Ashwin.

He also mocked Ashwin by asking: “How many IPL teams wanted you, when you asked every single one of them to have you?”

Paine dropped a catch during the following over, while Ashwin dragged his side to a draw despite having a sore back.

The comments came after Paine had dropped three catches and been fined 15 per cent of his match fee after being found guilty of dissent, having appealed to standing umpire Paul Wilson for some “f***ing consistency” during the game.

Australia captain Tim Paine and India veteran Ravichandran Ashwin leave the field after the day’s play.(AP: Rick Rycroft)

The Australian skipper fronted an unscheduled media conference on Tuesday morning to apologise, saying he was bitterly disappointed with the way he had behaved during the Test.

“I felt I had a really poor game in terms of my leadership and I think that affected our team,” he said.

“If you behave like I did during this Test match and then perform like that, you open yourself up to criticism, so I was fully expecting it and I’m happy to cop that on the chin.”

But the 36-year-old insisted he had given no thought of giving up the captaincy in order to focus on his wicketkeeping.

“No not at all — I think once you can sit down and understand what went wrong and how it went wrong things are pretty easy to fix,” he said.

“I think if you pretend that yesterday was OK and that my behaviour and wicketkeeping was OK then you’ve probably got a problem but I’ve said a few times in the last six months, I feel like I’m actually getting better as a cricketer.”

Wearing a green blazer, whites and a pink baggy cap, Tim Paine walks through up the SCG race past members seats
Australian Test cricket captain Tim Paine dropped three catches and was fined 15 per cent of his match fee during the third Test.(AAP: Dan Himbrechts)

Cricket world reacts to sledging

Gavaskar slammed Paine for his “unnecessary” verbals.

“He certainly is no captain in my view,” he told ABC Sport.

“He has been unimpressive, and the frustration boiled over in trying to talk to Ashwin and say things to him, which was completely unnecessary.

“In trying to upset Ashwin’s concentration, his own concentration was upset when he went for a catch.”

The former opener, whose name adorns the trophy on the line during the fourth Test that starts on Friday, was even more critical while analysing Paine’s poor finish to the tense Test for India Today.

“I am not an Australian selector but his days as captain are numbered,” he said.

India batsman Ravichandran Ashwin hits the cricket ball away with a cross-batted shot during a Test at the SCG.
India’s Ravichandran Ashwin helped his side earn a draw in Sydney.(AP: Rick Rycroft)

Former England captain Michael Vaughan also hit out at Paine’s language behind the stumps, saying the sledging was “back to the old days”.


Vaughan’s former England teammate Darren Gough said the Australians’ behaviour was “embarrassing”.

“Australia was supposed to have got everything in order with Tim Paine. They’ve given him a knighthood, basically, because what he’s done to this Australian team is made them grow up,” Gough told UK radio station TalkSport.

“Well, they’re just dropping back into that zone. They’ve got to keep an eye on this.”

After the game, Paine had defended his byplay with Ashwin, saying it was a case of “no harm done”.

Stand-in India captain Ajinkya Rahane was also not concerned, saying “as long as it stays on the field”.

Steve Smith also draws criticism

Matthew Wade’s sledging and Steve Smith marking Rishabh Pant’s batting guard during a drinks break went down poorly in India and England.

Former India batsman Virender Sehwag shared a video to Twitter showing Smith’s actions, saying he had “tried all the tricks”.


“This is very, very poor,” former England captain Michael Vaughan said on Twitter of the Smith incident.

Former England bowler Gough said Smith’s actions were “plain cheating”.

“He [Smith] had showed us these tears and sorrow for using sandpaper on the ball. He was the captain who was responsible for it because he was the leader,” Gough told TalkSport.

“Well now, in the break in play in between overs, he’s going around dancing around scuffing up the pitch and rubbing out with his spikes the batsman’s marker.

“That was totally out of order.”

Tim Paine and Steve Smith stand looking off to one side, both standing with their hands on their hips
Tim Paine says Steve Smith was marking the centre of the crease, as he often does.(AP: Rick Rycroft)

But Paine said there was nothing out of order, it was just one of the star batsman’s quirks.

“Steve is actually quite upset about it, the reaction,” said Paine.

“If you’ve watched Steve Smith play Test cricket that’s something that he does every single game, five or six times a day — he’s always standing in the batting crease shadow batting.

“There’s no way in the world that he was trying to change Rishabh Pant’s guard or anything like that — it’s just one of Smithy’s things that he does.”

But given the reaction, Paine concedes Smith may need to think twice about doing it in the future.


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