Australian PM Scott Morrison reached out to Tim Paine over Ashes plight


Tim Paine has revealed he spoke to prime minister Scott Morrison regarding the plight of this summer’s Ashes. England’s players have all but confirmed they will tour for the marquee series, with England cricket officials set to give the tick of approval this weekend. But it came after long-running negotiations between the two countries, amid fears over lockdowns and quarantine requirements for players and families.

UK prime minister Boris Johnson also raised the issue of the tour with Morrison last month, as a further push to ensure it would get off the ground. And Paine confirmed on Friday he too had heard England captain Joe Root had agreed to tour, after Morrison also reached out to him about the issue.

“I’ve had a little bit of contact with [Morrison] but I have over my period as Test captain,” Paine told his SEN Hobart show. “He always touches base to see how it’s going. He was keen to find out what the sticking points might have been from a players’ perspective.”

Meanwhile Paine also hit back at former England captain Nasser Hussain, who criticised Australia’s captain this week for a lack of empathy. Paine said on his show last week that the Ashes would go ahead with or without Joe Root, stating it would be worked out at board and government level before players’ made decisions.

That prompted Hussain to be critical of Paine’s stance, pointing out that England had played 18 Tests during the pandemic compared to Australia’s four.

“I’d like a bit of accuracy about it,” Paine said. “I certainly didn’t hear any lecturing around quarantine as Nasser Hussain put it. Spouting nonsense I think was [former England batsman] Rob Key. I thought I played it pretty much with a straight bat. Gave some facts. But it comes with the territory when you play against England.”

Paine also engaged in back-and-forth with Key, and laughed off Barmy Army criticism of his Test record compared to Root’s. A social media post from the England supporter group this week pointed out that Root’s total runs for 2021 were just 80 shy of Paine’s career tally.

“I would like to say apples and oranges, but it’s not even that,” Paine said. “It’s a long way apart. The Barmy Army watch a lot of cricket. You’d think they’d understand the game more than that. Joe Root, if he wasn’t scoring more runs than me they would have a serious issue. They rely on him to win games of cricket with the bat, I am a small piece in the jigsaw.”

Paine did however state that it was “sad” the Barmy Army couldn’t tour this year, given the atmosphere they add to Ashes contests.