Opinion: Captain Tim Paine must be dropped if Australia are to win the Ashes
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The world of cricket saw a once-in-a-lifetime kind of performance by Ben Stokes at Headingly. This superlative show with the bat, not to forget the tireless bowling efforts by the “Big Ben” has rightly left cricket experts comparing it with Ian Botham’s 1981 exploits.
This is the kind of performance for which cricketers are remembered long after they have hung their boots. Stokes has already had two such phenomenal performances – one in the shorter format in the World Cup final and now this one in the longer format. This is indeed his summer just as 1981 was Botham’s.
However, all is not lost for Australia. In fact, if the series were to end here, it is Australia who would retain the Ashes. They are the current holders of the Ashes and a tied series will ensure they retain it.
They will certainly be bolstered by the return of Steve Smith, who was by far the best batsman in the first two tests. But who should he replace? His replacement, Marnus Labuschagne has performed so well in the three innings he has played thus far that he is well-nigh un-droppable.
Some names going the rounds are Travis Head and Matthew Wade. But if one goes purely by the performances, Tim Paine should be the one giving way for Steve Smith. His batting has been abysmally poor and poorer has been his captaincy.
The way he wasted a crucial review in the final stages of the match possibly cost his team the match. If he had not wasted the review earlier, he could have used the same review to appeal when Stokes was trapped plumb in front of the wicket by Nathan Lyon and the umpire decided to rule it not out.
Had a review been available to take then, Stokes would have been ruled out and Australia would have won the match and retained the urn. There is no getting away from the fact that umpiring in this series has been extremely poor. Joel Wilson, in particular, has been having a horror of a series as an umpire. But so has been the use of DRS by Tim Paine.
Paine's decision-making may have suffered due to his poor form with the bat. The playing eleven already has another wicket-keeper in Matthew Wade, who has already scored a hundred in the series.
Tim Paine is no Mike Brearley. Unlike the legendary England captain of yore, who contributed immensely as a captain despite not being a great player himself, Paine does not have adequate captaincy skills to stay in the team despite not fitting into the team as a player. He must drop himself or be dropped by the management if Australia are to retain the Ashes.
Also read – Ashes Most matches played