Domain Tests v India
Paine, Cummins respond to Clarke comments
IPL contracts were not on the mind of the Aussies when Virat Kohli's India last toured down under
10 April 2020, 11:49 AM AEST
Michael Clarke's suggestion that Australia's Test players were "too scared" to sledge India captain Virat Kohli during the 2018-19 summer for fear of jeopardising potential IPL contracts has been dismissed by leadership duo Tim Paine and Pat Cummins.
Without banned batters Steve Smith and David Warner, Australia lost a Test series on home soil to India for the first time two summers back, with the hosts taking a passive approach on the field in the wake of the Cape Town ball tampering incident.
As revealed in The Test, the Amazon Prime documentary on the Australian men's cricket team, Test captain Paine instructed his charges to keep the trash talk to a minimum while Kohli was batting, believing the right-hander thrives when engaged by the opposition.
"I certainly didn't notice too many people being that nice to Virat or not trying to get him out or anything like that," Paine told ESPN.
"I thought everyone who had the ball in their hand or when we were batting were trying their absolute best to win the game for Australia.
"I'm not sure who was going easy on him; we certainly had a thing where we didn't want to provoke any fight with him because we think that's when he plays at his best.
"Who knows what will happen this series (in Australia next summer) and, as we saw in the documentary, there was still quite a lot of heat in some of those games.
"I certainly wasn't holding back, but again the IPL's not a huge draw for me at the moment, so I had nothing to lose.
"But anytime our guys go out and play a Test match for Australia, they'll be giving their absolute all and I'm pretty sure they're not thinking about an IPL contract when they're running in, bowling to Virat."
Vice-captain Cummins, who was bought for $3 million by IPL franchise Kolkata Knight Riders last December, said an IPL contract was not on his mind when he was charging in to bowl to the India captain during the series, explaining Australia's approach was largely influenced by the feedback from the Australian public after the incident at Newlands.
Under coach Justin Langer, Australia have been determined to make Australians proud of the national men's cricket team once again, with their conduct on the field a major focus in winning back the support of the fans.
"I think probably a bigger factor was six months before leading into that Indian series the media and everyone commentating on the Aussie cricket team were pretty clear in their direction in the way they wanted the Aussies team to go and that was playing a little bit less aggressively out on the field," Cummins told the BBC.
"I'd say that would have been a bigger factor than trying to win or lose friends out on the cricket field.
"But you never know, that might have been a factor for some players."
Clarke said Australian cricket had become "a little bit softer or not as hard as we're accustomed to seeing", while suggesting teams around the world had "sucked up" to India to protect lucrative IPL contracts.
"Everybody knows how powerful India are in regards to the financial part of the game, internationally or domestically with the IPL," Clarke said on Big Sports Breakfast radio show.
"I feel that Australian cricket, and probably every other team over a little period, went the opposite and actually sucked up to India.
"They were too scared to sledge Kohli or the other Indian players,"
"The players were like: 'I'm not going to sledge Kohli, I want him to pick me for (IPL franchise) Bangalore so I can make my $1 million for my six weeks'."
Australia and India are set to lock horns again next summer when Kohli's side returns down under for four Tests, but what exactly that series will look like remains to be seen as the world deals with the devastating COVID-19 pandemic.