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Taking one Test at a time, says Paine on his captaincy future

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Adelaide, Dec 16 (IANS) Australia skipper Tim Paine has said that he is in talks with head coach Justin Langer and national selector Trevor Hohns over his future as captain, although his immediate focus remains at the four-match series against India beginning Thursday with a pink-ball fixture at the Adelaide Oval.

The 36-year-old was appointed as Australia’s captain after Steve Smith was banned from playing Test cricket for a year and leading Australia for two years following his role in sandpapergate controversy in 2018.

Former Australia skipper Allan Border has backed the return of Smith for captaincy, saying that a series loss to India will force the Aussies to think of removing Paine. Border had also said there are not many options beyond Smith for Australia after Paine.

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“Yeah, we will wait and see. I have said from the very first time I came back into the Test team when I wasn’t the captain that I won’t look past that series…I looked that when I was young and haven’t taken away that quickly. So for me the focus is on Adelaide and after Adelaide it is Melbourne and so on for the rest of the series…and then we’ll wait and see. I am often talking to JL (Justin Langer) and Trevor Hohns when and how it might look in the future but at the moment my sights are firmly settled on this series and that is it,” Paine told the media on Wednesday, the eve of the first Test.

The Australia Test skipper, who has played 31 Tests and 19 of those as captain, said the return of Smith and David Warner (in 2019) to international cricket has been of great help to him.

“Having them has been great, certainly for me. Having the two very experienced players with me has helped. Two of the players who have played lots of big Test matches, series, lots of experience…not only for me but for the group as a whole, the way they have been around with the whole group for the last 12 months. It has been unbelievably good, lucky to have them back,” said Paine.

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“As for me, I have a role to play in this group, as far as I am able to do that, I am happy my job is to wicketkeeper-captain and score some handy runs with the tail. That has been my role and am performing well,” he added.

The 36-year-old, however, said he is feeling better as a player than last year.

“I don’t think (I am most well-prepared). I am normally well-prepared. I am a cricketer who loves to train and as I have said many times, I want to continue to train and improve. What I do know is that I am a better player this year than I was last year. Every player in our squad has improved as cricketer since the last time we played against India. And yes we have Steve back, we don’t have Dave at this stage for this test. We will at some stage in this series,” said the Tasmanian.

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The wicketkeeper-batsman also said that the ‘hub life’ during the Covid-19 pandemic can make him play better and longer as he sleeping better than he would at home.

“I am loving it to be honest. I don’t think this hub is as strict as maybe IPL or in England. I am getting a great night’s sleep. My kids are at home. Which is good in one way but I certainly miss them. Obviously it is good in here, certainly fresher here, sleeping better here to what I do at home. So actually the hub life will make me play longer if anything.”

He also said that his team’s players are getting on with things despite the fatigue.

“We knew what this year is going to look like obviously with the Test summer being pushed back a bit. Guys would be a bit fatigued but to be honest we have just tried to get on with it. It is what it is. There are a lot worse things to be doing than playing Test cricket for your country and having to be in a hub and staying in nice hotels and eating good food,” said Paine.

“So we are obviously very lucky to be doing what we are doing, obviously there is going to be a little bit of fatigue for guys who are in it for months now but it is up to guys like myself and a few others, who haven’t had to come in, to drive the energy of this group. We’ll continue to keep our standards really high. Obviously fatigue is a big factor but at the same time we are professionals and are used to it and won’t look at it as excuse,” he added.

–IANS

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