When Australia’s selection panel sat to draft their squad to tour South Africa, Tim Paine’s position as captain wasn’t even discussed.
The wicketkeeper’s future as a player and leader was questioned during and after India’s enthralling comeback series win, Paine anticipating the backlash when he spoke after Australia’s historic defeat in Brisbane this month.
But he has the backing of selectors and will captain the side if March’s three-Test tour – still to be confirmed subject to biosecurity clearance – goes ahead.
“Tim’s leadership was never in question; we did not spend one minute on Tim’s leadership during our selection meeting,” chief selector Trevor Hohns said.
“He’s been a terrific leader of this team through some pretty trying circumstances and some of the criticism he’s endured has been pretty wide of the mark – and in poor taste from some people overseas.
“We’re all disappointed (to lose the series), but the criticism of Tim Paine has been totally unfair.”
Hohns said he had reflected on his own actions during the four Tests but said he wasn’t sure whether there “was anything we could have done differently”.
But pressed on if they should have rotated the fast bowling group, considering Sean Abbott and Michael Neser were fresh and waiting in the wings, he admitted “it’s possibly something that could have been done”.
Australia were unable to bowl India out on the final day in Sydney or Brisbane, India first hanging on to draw then chasing a historic win to clinch the series in the final session at the Gabba.
But he said any thoughts on resting one of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood or Pat Cummins for the third or fourth Test were dismissed when they proved they were fit to play.
“We felt those three fast bowlers have performed very well for Australia over a long period of time were the best ones for the job,” he said.