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Australia Test captain Tim Paine has denied reports of a rift between some of the Australian players and banned opener David Warner.
It was reported that a few players told Cricket Australia that they no longer wanted to play with Warner. However, Paine insisted that the speculation was “off the mark” and “really unfair” on Warner.
Warner is understood to have played a leading role in the ball tampering scandal that shocked the cricketing community, which occurred on the third day of the third Test against South Africa in Cape Town. It is believed that he told fellow opening batsman Cameron Bancroft to alter the condition of the ball with sandpaper.
As a result, Warner and Steve Smith were banned for 12 months by Cricket Australia, while Bancroft was suspended for nine months. Smith won’t be allowed to captain Australia for two years, while Warner won’t be considered for leadership roles in the future.
Earlier this week, News Corp journalist Robert Craddock questioned if Warner would be welcomed back to the team under the leadership of new head coach Justin Langer.
“Langer wants mateship in the team and I don’t believe mateship and Warner are compatible,” Craddock told SEN radio as quoted by cricket.com.au. “Because half the players can’t stand him, they contacted Cricket Australia saying they didn’t want to play with him again.
“Now, they should have no choice in that, it’s not their decision. But that’s the vibe. If (Langer) wants cultural shift, how do you have cultural shift and Warner in the same team? That’s my question.”
However, Paine, who was recently named ODI skipper on a temporary basis, made it clear that Craddock’s claims couldn’t be further from the truth.
“I certainly like Crash Craddock’s writing and when he’s on TV I’m a fan of his,” Paine said. “But I thought he was a little bit off the mark there and really unfair on David Warner as a person and as a cricketer.
“David is someone who’s certainly highly competitive on the field and sometimes that can rub people and oppositions up the wrong way. But within our team he’s someone with that energy and competitiveness that we love playing with.
“They were disappointing comments and it’s not the way David is held within our team. There’s a side of David that people don’t know – he’s very loyal and really caring and a good team man to have around.”
Paine also revealed that he and many of the other Australian players have been in contact with Warner since returning to Australia from their Test series in South Africa.
“There was maybe a day or two there where guys were in and out of the investigation,” he said. “And when you come home, that’s the way it is in Australia; we live all around the country. But I know the guys have kept in touch via texts or phone calls and that’s something we’ve got to continue to work on.
“The week in South Africa was really difficult, everyone said that. But guys in that team get along well and David is a respected member of that team, he always has been. As long as I’ve been around the team he’s been really well liked and really well received by his teammates.”