Tim Paine hits back at Michael Clarke's bombshell cricket claims

Michael Clarke's claims about Aussie players 'sucking up' to Virat Kohli have been rubbished by Tim Paine. Pic: AAP/Getty

The current Australian cricket captain has hit back at a former captain's suggestions his players "sucked up" to India's Virat Kohli to protect their own financial interests.

Ex-skipper Michael Clarke caused a stir earlier in the week after claiming Australia's cricketers held back on verbal sledging of India to protect their lucrative Indian Premier League contracts.

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Clarke said players were “too scared" to play a normal game against India because of the influence of the world's wealthiest cricket tournament.

“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 on Tuesday.

“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,” he said, referring to the verbal sparring that often takes place on the pitch.

Current Australia skipper Paine admits that his side deliberately didn't try to provoke Kohli because they think "that’s when he plays at his best".

However, Paine says he's surprised by Clarke's suggestion that the Aussies let Kohli off too lightly.

“I’m not sure who was going easy on him,” Paine told ESPNcricinfo.

“I certainly didn’t notice too many people being that nice to Virat or not trying to get him out or anything like that.

“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.

“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.”

Clarke says Aussies had lucrative IPL deals in the back of their minds

Australian players have attracted big money since the IPL started in 2008.

Paceman Pat Cummins is the most expensive overseas star this year with Kolkata Knight Riders paying $3.2 million.

The contest has been delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic and the league must announce soon whether it will be held at all.

The league was due to feature top internationals including England's Ben Stokes and David Warner of Australia.

Clarke, who played for the now-defunct Pune Warriors in 2012, said Australian players coveted the million-dollar deals on offer.

Michael Clarke says Aussie players were too scared to sledge Virat Kohli. Image: Getty

“The players were like: ‘I'm not going to sledge Kohli, I want him to pick me for Bangalore so I can make my $1 million for my six weeks’.”

“I feel like that’s where Australia went through that little phase where our cricket become a little bit softer or not as hard as we're accustomed to seeing.”

Paine said while her personally didn't have an IPL contract to worry about, the suggestion that Aussie players would put their individual deals ahead of the team is nonsense.

“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,” Paine said.

“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.”

with agencies