Healy: Paine needs to sharpen up his game
IAN Healy believes Tim Paine has been unfairly blasted for his tactics in Australia's Headingley Test loss but claims the skipper must now tune up his own game.
Test great Healy has been stunned by the force of criticism of Paine and the defensive fields he set to English matchwinner Ben Stokes in the madhouse last half-hour of the Test.
"I had just finished doing my player ratings before I heard all the criticism of him and I had actually said he captained the team well,'' Healy said.
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"I thought he created chances, rotated bowlers wisely and gave extended spells at the right times to guys like (James) Pattinson. He does not tolerate bad bowling for long. I thought he was fine.
"I have got no criticism of what he is doing at the end keeping men out.
"The television commentators did not mention one thing he did wrong. They saw nothing wrong with his fields to Stokes, who just pushed them into the gaps at the right speed.
"Definitely, he has been unfairly criticised.''
But Healy senses the heavy-burdened Paine has other parts of his game which need attention.
"He has a massive job," Healy said. "I admire what he has done but I have sensed his keeping has become a little fumbly and less tidy than it was and his batting has lost its punch.
"He has work to do on his own game. He is heavily involved behind the stumps with comments and chat. He needs to keep an eye on that and get some time to himself. He has done all the off-field work for the last six months after sandpaper-gate.
"In Australia, the captain has to be one of our better players. You don't stay in the team because you are captain very often, so he just has to sharpen up.
"We need Tim to freshen up because the captaincy ranks are lean. If it is not Tim Paine, who is it?''
Though a long-term vice-captain Healy never captained Australia in a Test and his thoughts on whether a keeper should or could be captain fluctuated throughout his career.
After watching Paine become the Minister for Everything, Healy conceded it was a massive ask for a keeper to lead the team, especially when they spent large parts of the innings over the stumps to a slow man (Nathan Lyon).