Langer bats for Paine and Smith

Australia coach blasts criticism of the two players.

Australia coach Justin Langer gave under-fire skipper Tim Paine his “100%” support and blasted criticism of Steve Smith as “absolute rubbish” on Wednesday after a backlash against their behaviour in the drawn third Test against India in Sydney.

Paine’s captaincy has been questioned after he launched an ugly verbal tirade at India’s R. Ashwin and Smith was accused of foul play after appearing to scuff up batsman Rishabh Pant’s guard at the crease during a tense final day.

But an indignant Langer was having none of it.

“Do I have faith in Tim Paine? You have no idea how much faith I have in Paine,” he said on a Zoom call.

“He didn’t have his best day, no doubt about that, but after three years he has hardly put a hair out of place.

“He has been outstanding as the Australian captain in everything he does. He had a frustrating day and we have got to cut him some slack, surely.”

Wicketkeeper Paine, guilty of dropping three catches on the final day, has apologised and admitted frustration got the better of him when he tried to unsettle Ashwin, who held out for more than three hours for an unbeaten 39 as the tourists salvaged a draw.

Backing Paine as captain

While backing Paine to continue as captain “for some time yet”, Langer also acknowledged criticism would come if anyone deviated from the high standards the team now set themselves.

“When you set a standard as high as he does, and we do, we understand we get criticised when you fall below that. It’s not what we are about,” he said.

“But Tim is an outstanding leader and will continue to be for some time to come yet. He has my 100 percent support.”

Footage of Smith, who was Australia’s captain during the sandpaper scandal and banned for year, suggested he deliberately interfered with Pant’s batting guard.

Absolute rubbish

“As for Steve Smith, I literally cannot believe some of the rubbish I’ve read — absolute load of rubbish,” said Langer.

He took particular aim at England greats Michael Vaughan and Darren Gough, personally phoning them after they criticised Smith.

“On that wicket, that was that flat, and it was like concrete, you’d need 15-inch spikes to make an indent on the crease and he went nowhere near the crease.”

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