Former Australian captain Mark Taylor believes the Tim Paine scandal in the lead-up to the Ashes could prove to be a rallying moment for a suddenly under-fire home side.
Australia seemingly had a perfect preparation for its summer by winning an elusive T20 World Cup, but Paine’s shock resignation has suddenly thrown a spanner in the works.
Taylor, who captained Australia in three Ashes series in the 90s, believes the entire scandal could bring a tight-knit playing group even closer together.
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“It’s got to have some affect, but it may not all be negative,” he told 2GB’s Wide World of Sports Radio.
“There’s this feeling that there’s an underlying problem in the side and therefore the side won’t play its best.
“The other way to look at it is: wouldn’t it be nice to play well not just for yourself or for Australian cricket, but to support Tim?
“To show that we are this tight-knit group and we have got some resolve and some resilience. It can work in your favour as well.”
Paine made his long-awaited return to a cricket field on Monday while playing for Tasmania’s second XI, where he took six catches behind the stumps.
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“It’s been a long while, I haven’t played since last year, so I’m looking forward to it,” Paine had told Nine News before play, before adding about his recovery from surgery, “Yeah fine, no complaints, so good to go”.
While there were initially doubts over whether Paine would line up for the Ashes series after he stepped down, the 36-year-old now appears likely to play.
“I think he can play, it’ll be tough though,” Taylor said.
“Tim has shown over the last three-and-a-half years that he is a resilient character, there’s no doubt about that. He’s known about this and this has been hanging over him as Australian captain and he’s been able to perform and perform very well.
“How he goes about it, if or when he’s picked, will be interesting to watch because we’ll all be watching with that lens on. How much of this is affecting his mind and his skills?
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“The first couple of Test matches, as they always are in an Ashes series, will be absolutely vital for Tim Paine.
“We want to see him catch everything, make some handy runs, walk up to whoever the next captain might be, pat him on the shoulder and say, ‘Maybe we should do this’.”
Ironically, the 2021-22 Ashes series will get underway on Paine’s 37th birthday when Australia and England take the field on December 8 at the Gabba in Brisbane.
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