Sydney, Oct 22 (IANS): Australian Test skipper Tim Paine is trying to mend fences with England pace bowler Jimmy Anderson after the wicketkeeper-batter's controversial remarks that "no one is forcing them (England)" to come and play in Australia.
The Joe Root-led England side begin their five-Test Ashes tour next month after Cricket Australia (CA) convinced the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) that the country's quarantine rules won't be as stringent as were being portrayed. CA also reportedly made concessions by allowing the families of the England players to accompany them and hosting them in a private resort during Christmas and New Year.
While the discussions to break the deadlock were on, Paine was quoted as saying, "No one is forcing you (England players) to come; no one is forcing any England player to come. That is the beauty of the world we live in, you have a choice -- if you don't want to come, don't come."
England pace bowling stalwart Anderson told Paine to keep his comments "respectable" as it would affect the morale of the players during the pandemic times, especially since all-rounder Ben Stokes too was unavailable due to mental health issues.
"It is dangerous to start talking like that, especially when we already have one player missing because he is looking after his mental health," Anderson had responded to Paine's comments.
Former England skipper Nasser Hussain too said that Paine has "no empathy towards England cricketers".
On Friday, Paine said he had been misinterpreted. "We've been over this enough, I know what I said, we know what was said and they can build it up as whatever they like but I'm not going to get stuck into that side of it," Paine told SEN Hobart.
"Obviously, that (mental health) is a very, very serious issue and one that I certainly take seriously. I know in Australian cricket we've had plenty of our own issues, and a lot of sportsmen around the world have had issues with that, so I'm not going to get into that except to say that's clearly an issue that I completely respect," said Paine.
"I have a lot of time for people that are struggling with that side of life… that certainly wasn't what we were talking about," he added.
The first Ashes Test begins in Brisbane on December 8.