Tim Paine: ‘Tension starting to boil under the surface’ as India’s tour nears close


Makes reference to India’s “power in world cricket” in light of rumblings around Brisbane Test’s venue

Australia Test captain Tim Paine believes there is “tension starting to boil under the surface” of the Test series against India, which is poised at 1-1 and amid talk of where the final match – scheduled for Brisbane – may be played.

The build-up to the series and the early exchanges have been notable for the relative harmony in what is a head-to-head with a feisty history, which Paine partly put down to the collective relief of being able to play cricket again amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, after two Test matches that have seen significant swings in fortune – from India being bowled out for 36 in Adelaide to their stunning victory at the MCG – which has been followed by the rumblings of discontent in the India camp at the restrictions they will be under for the final two weeks of the tour in order to be allowed entry to Queensland, confined to the team hotels other than for training and match days, there is a sense things might change.

Paine made reference to the “power” of India in world cricket and how it can potentially influence the decisions that are made, although as things stand, the final Test remains at the Gabba with exemptions having been granted by the Queensland government for the two teams and a small number of other personnel.

“It’s been unusually tame, the start of this series and I think it’s because both teams are just happy to be back playing Test cricket, there’s been such a big break and there’s a lot of respect between the two teams no doubt about that,” Paine said. “But [they are] very competitive sides. It’s boiling away, there’s some stuff starting to happen, a bit of chat starting to happen, so I think this Test is going to be fascinating not just from a cricket point of view, but I think there’s a bit of tension starting to boil under the surface with unnamed sources coming out from their camp saying where they want to play the fourth Test and where they don’t want to go. I think it’s starting to grind a few people, so we’ll see how it goes.”

Australia have a formidable record at the Gabba having not lost a Test there since 1988 and regularly make no secret of their desire to start a series in Brisbane. The venue did not host India on their last tour and the restructured schedule this season has meant it is now the final match of this contest – and the game that could decide the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. However, Paine insisted that while there remains uncertainty he did not care where the match eventually took place.

“I wouldn’t say [there’s] frustration, I’d just say a bit of uncertainty because when you hear things like that coming, particularly from India, who we know hold a lot of power in world cricket, it’s likely that it could happen,” he said. “So for us we just want to be really clear on this Test match. We know the protocols, we know what is expected of us. We’re going to focus on that this week then whatever happens never week, happens, and we’ll adapt to it.

“But we’re not too fussed. We’re not buying into where the Test is being played. As far as we’re aware it is at the Gabba, but as I said in the team meeting the other day, we couldn’t care less. If you rang us up and said it’s in Mumbai tomorrow, we’d get on a plane and play it. That’s the way we are looking at it.”

Speaking at the SCG on Tuesday, CA’s interim CEO Nick Hockley said: “I obviously can’t speak for the BCCI but we’re working towards the schedule and we’re just very grateful for everybody involved, both sets of players. We thank everybody for all their sacrifices.”

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo

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