Australian captains aren’t generally well liked in England but Tim Paine’s clash with Kevin Pietersen, and his statement that the Ashes will go ahead with or without Joe Root, has send the nation’s cricket writers into an all-time meltdown.
Paine told SEN on Friday there was no way the series would not take place this summer, in response to a Tweet from Pietersen that: “There is NO WAY I would go to The Ashes this winter. ZERO chance! Unless, the ridiculous quarantine rules were squashed and my family could travel with zero restrictions.”
“The Ashes are going ahead,” Paine countered. “The First Test is on December 8th — whether Joe (Root, England captain) is here or not. They all want to come, there’s no doubt about that.
“No one is forcing any England player to come. That’s the beauty of the world we live in — you have a choice. If you don’t want to come, don’t come.
“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. Kevin (Pietersen), mate, leave it to the players. Let them speak.”
The English media reaction to Paine’s comments was brutal.
“England’s touring team is also being asked to take the weight of Australia’s unusually neurotic response to the global pandemic, with the added twitchiness of an election year.
“Certainly there is something galling about the spectacle of Australia’s captain mind-gaming out at the world from within his own sealed borders,” wrote the Guardian’s Barney Ronay in one of the more measured responses.
“The UK has suffered 130,000 Covid deaths. People have struggled horribly, have stared this plague in the face for the last 18 months. The cricketers have played on through all this. So spare us the shit-talk please, Tim Paine.”
UK Telegraph journalist Oliver Brown suggested Paine was a hypocrite because Australia hasn’t played an away Test series since the 2019 Ashes.
“Lovely to hear the views on this delicate issue from Tim Paine, captain of an Australia team that has not played a Test series away for over two years,” Brown tweeted.
Times cricket writer Elizabeth Ammon added: : “I see Tim Paine is nailing the art of empathy towards his fellow professional cricketers. Pillock.”
Cricket writer Chetan Narula said: “Nice of Tim Paine to mouth off again.
“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 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, a 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,” added English cricket writer Chris Stocks.