Peter Handscomb has launched a stirring defence of Tim Paine in the face of mounting criticism being aimed at Australia’s incumbent Test captain.
Paine has worn the brunt of public condemnation after Australia’s 2-1 series defeat to an understrength India, sealed by the tourists’ stunning win at the Gabba.
Some prominent cricket commentators, including former England captain Kevin Pietersen, have called into question the 36-year-old’s captaincy credentials going forward.
But former Test batsman Handscomb is having none of it.
“I can’t believe the fallout from this Test is his captaincy, that’s just an absolute joke,” he told reporters on Thursday.
“The poor guy’s batting beautifully, making some good runs, taking the game on and leading with that intent, which is really good to see.
“For it to come down to some perceived captaincy ideas is ridiculous.
“The whole team’s there and everyone’s trying to do their best … it’s a bit of a joke that the takeaway seems to be his captaincy.”
Paine, who averaged 40.80 during the Test series, has had his wicket-keeping questioned after dropping three catches on the final day in Sydney and missing a stumping in Brisbane.
He is eager to lead Australia to South Africa next month, if that tour goes ahead.
But Pietersen believes Australia should be looking to a new captain after Paine’s perceived failures on home soil.
“Australians don’t like to lose and the knives will be out for a few members of that team after this defeat,” Pietersen wrote in his blog for Betway.
“We heard Tim Paine tell Ravichandran Ashwin that he ‘can’t wait to get you to the Gabba’ – well they’ve been whacked at the Gabba, so where are they going to go now?
“I believe that Cricket Australia will soon be looking for a new captain – Paine has never, ever been up to it.”
Paine and fellow Test player Matthew Wade are expected to be available to play alongside Handscomb for Hobart in their Big Bash meeting with Perth in Melbourne on Friday night.