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Series Editorial

‘Aussie arrogance in fine fettle’ – Tim Paine dragged for ‘lack of empathy’ in Joe Root Ashes remarks

by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Australia Test captain Tim Paine has been roundly criticised for his comments on the potential cancellation of this winter’s Ashes.

There have been long been lingering doubts over the viability of the tour due to the possibility that the families of England’s squad members would not be allowed to travel, and the stringent quarantine requirements the touring party would face. England captain Joe Root became the latest to refuse to commit to the tour earlier this week.

“It is so hard to make a decision until we know what it looks like,” said Root. “Once that information comes through and we have a bit more clarity, hopefully we are in a position to go and do something special this winter.”

Paine, speaking on Australian radio station SEN Hobart, had little sympathy for the plight of England’s players. “They’ll have a choice to make, you either get on that plane or don’t,” he said. “No one is forcing you to come. If you don’t want to come, don’t come. The Ashes are going ahead. The first Test is on 8 December, whether Joe is here or not. There will be a squad of England players coming here.”

He also suggested that all of England’s players would choose to travel, with their complaints merely an attempt to secure “the best possible conditions they can”.

“We have not heard one England player come out and say they will not be coming. I think it’s been beat up,” he said. “If you do want to come and represent your country and play in an Ashes series, which Joe Root said that’s what they all want to do, that’s what they dream about doing, then come and do it.

“They all want to come, there’s no doubt about that. They’re trying to get themselves the best possible conditions they can. But we all are. We don’t want to give them poor conditions because we’re going to be in the same boat. It’ll be worked out.”

Paine has been criticised for a lack of empathy. As a one-format player, Paine is yet to tour another country since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, with Australia’s last away Test coming in the 2019 Ashes. While he is currently recovering from neck surgery, his state side, Tasmania, pulled out of their first game of the ongoing Sheffield Shield season after four Covid-19 cases were reported in Queensland, where the game was set to take place.

“Nice of Tim Paine to mouth off again,” wrote Indian journalist Chetan Narula on Twitter. “Since the onset of this Covid pandemic, Australia haven’t toured away for a single Test series. Any LOI tours were undertaken by their B-teams. But they are keen to invite India and England into strict bubbles so as to earn 300m from home.

“The last thing you want is a lack of empathy for your fellow cricketers at present. Bubble fatigue is a reality of our times. Tim Paine probably isn’t aware of it cos [sic] not many teams across the world hire him to play for them. His national team doesn’t see him fit for 3 formats.”

James Whaling, Daily Mirror sports journalist, wrote: “Who does he think he’s going to play against, a load of pissed-up ex-pats? Good to see the Aussie arrogance still in fine fettle.”

“Meanwhile Australia’s players are struggling to even play cricket because of state border closures,” pointed out English cricket writer Chris Stocks.

Paine also hit out at former England cricketer Kevin Pietersen during the course of the radio show, calling him an “expert on everything”. Pietersen has since responded to Paine via Twitter.

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