Shane Warne has raised questions over Tim Paine’s captaincy, asking whether the Australia wicketkeeper-batsman even merits a place in the team.
Paine was made captain after Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft were all suspended by Cricket Australia for their involvement in the ball-tampering incident that engulfed Australia in March.
Smith and Warner both incurred 12-month bans, and their absence has been greatly felt, particularly since they were captain and vice-captain respectively.
Australia have lost all their six matches – one Test and five ODIs – under Paine’s captaincy so far. Moreover, Paine hasn’t had the best returns with the bat. He scored 62 in his first Test innings as captain, but has endured multiple failures after that.
“The Australian way is always to pick your best team,” Warne told Fox Sports News. “There’s a lot of talk about ‘should Tim Paine be in the side?’. He’s the captain at the moment.
“We as Australians should always pick our best team, and then you pick your captain and vice-captain from that. I don’t think we should just make a captain and then fit a side around him.
“I think the captain and vice-captain should still be up for grabs because I want to see us pick the best side possible. If Tim Paine’s in the best side and he’s the best guy to be captain then make him captain.”
Warne, the legendary leg-spinner who took 708 Test wickets, suggested that Nathan Lyon or one of the other bowlers take up vice-captaincy duties.
“He (Lyon) is a senior player, he’s an experienced player in the side, (and) spinners generally think about the game pretty well. Nathan Lyon thinks about the game pretty well,” said Warne. “Even the big quickies do in Starc and Hazlewood, Cummins is young but why not have a look at him either?
“I don’t think any of the batsmen have really consolidated themselves … all of their spots are up for grabs. The all-rounder’s spots up for grabs.
“If you’re an Australian cricketer at the moment, you’re so close to playing cricket for Australia. The start of the domestic season is so important because you could find yourself playing for Australia.”
Given the current troubles with their batting, Warne said Australia were ‘desperate’ to welcome Smith and Warner back into the side after they complete their suspensions.
“I still think they’ll be back, we need them, we’re desperate for them,” he said. “Have a look at the Australian side at the moment, we’re lacking in batting so we desperately need them.
“We sort of want to rush them back but they’ll do their time, they’ll pay their penance, their 12 months, and then they’ll be back and be better than ever.”