Tim Paine's Stunning Admission He Stuffed Up The Ben Stokes Situation
You've got to give the Aussie Test Captain full marks for honesty.
For captaincy and game management? Yeah, not so much.
As you're no doubt painfully aware, England pulled off one of the greatest sporting comebacks of all time in the third Ashes Test at Headingley in Leeds last week. The hero for the Poms was Ben Stokes, whose patient, then thermonuclear 135 not out stole an incredible win.
Australia had so many chances to get Stokes out -- or at least slow things down as the frenzied final overs played out quicker than a T20 match. But Tim Paine blew it.
This we could see as viewers, and we've now had it confirmed, because Paine himself has admitted it.
"I would do something differently with my field placings," Paine said in Manchester overnight, where Australia is preparing for the fourth Ashes Test at Old Trafford.
"There was times looking back at it where it was really obvious I should've had the field up and allowed Ben even to hit a couple of boundaries so we had more balls at the tail-ender. But I didn't do that," Paine said.
Yep, you read that right. An Australian cricket captain just 'fessed up to what he got wrong with his match tactics. Ever hear Steve Smith do that in a situation not involving sandpaper? Or Michael Clarke? Or Punter, Tubby or Tugga or anyone else with a typically Aussie-sounding two syllable nickname?
Of course you haven't.
But give Paine credit. He's been a breath of fresh air since being installed as skipper of the men's national side, and if his cricket hasn't always been top notch, his attitude and honesty has.
Paine's fields placements were indeed dreadful. Over after over, Stokes was able to take singles as he pleased off the last ball of the over to retain strike.
Paine also knows he got that key referral wrong where he should have kept his cool, and saved a review for when Nathan Lyon had a plumb LBW shout turned down.
All of this he has now admitted, which takes guts.
Meanwhile, the 34-year-old Tasmanian gave his strongest indication yet that strike bowler Mitchell Starc will play his first match of the series in the fourth Test.
"The boys have been calling him 'The Mop' for a few years now," he said, referring to Starc's ability to mop up the tail-enders -- a skill sorely missed in the Aussie attack at Headingley.
"He's a great option for us, we think this wicket might suit him, and if we make that call we're sure he'll do a great job as he has over his whole career."
Catch Ant Sharwood with co-hosts Scott Mackinnon and Roz Kelly on Sports Tonight at 11 pm, Wednesday night, on Network 10.