Australian Test captain Tim Paine has dismissed Michael Clarke’s criticism that he and other members of the team were too nice and ‘too scared’ of Virat Kohli.
Former skipper Clarke suggested that the Baggy Green’s conduct during the 2018 and 2019 encounters against India were influenced by Kohli’s strong swaying power with the IPL.
Paine, though, has padded away that criticism saying his players were as eager and determined as ever to dismiss Kohli.
In the recently released The Test documentary, Paine and the 2018 Australian side adopted a silent approach at the start of India’s tour but the wicketkeeper was the first one seen engaging with Kohli on the field.
Paine told ESPNcricinfo that Clarke’s comments were vague and that his team certainly didn’t turn soft towards Kohli.
‘I thought everyone who had the ball in their hand or when we were batting were trying their absolute best to win the game for Australia. I’m not sure who was going easy on him; we certainly had a thing where we didn’t want to provoke any fight with him because we think that’s when he plays at his best,’ said Paine.
India are due to tour Australia again at the end of this year and Paine is confident the traditional aggression between the two sides will be on display once again.
‘Who knows what will happen this series and, as we saw in the documentary, there was still quite a lot of heat in some of those games. I certainly wasn’t holding back, but again the IPL’s not a huge draw for me at the moment, so I had nothing to lose. But anytime our guys go out and play a Test match for Australia, they’ll be giving their absolute all and I’m pretty sure they’re not thinking about an IPL contract when they’re running in, bowling to Virat.’
Paine is proud of his side’s stance when playing the game, saying: ‘we still stick up for each other, we still fight as hard as any Australian team, but we’ve probably just had to move with the times and I’ve been really proud of the way we’ve played out cricket.’