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Paine's team responded to Michael Clarke, Gerard Whateley

The spirited reaction – both supporting and attacking – Michael Clarke's comments about the need for the Australian cricket team to remain hard-nosed has continued.

After Clarke and prominent commentator Gerard Whateley's back-and-forth, current Australian captain Tim Paine has defended his side's approach since Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft were suspended following the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa earlier this year.

He said Clarke's suggestion the team "was off-the-mark worrying about being liked and started worrying about being respected".

"There is no one about being liked, certainly by the opposition," Paine told ESPNcricinfo. "Weve spoken about wanting to get the Australian public trust and make sure that you want the Australian public and cricket fans to like or love the Australian Test team. Certainly there’s that aspect, but from an opposition perspective we’re not concerned about being liked one bit. "

Paine said after an awkward test in Johannesburg played after Smith, Warner and Bancroft were stepped down, his side had "competed as hard as they could" against Pakistan in the UAE without its frontline bowling attack.

"We're still going to play hard Australian cricket, as Michael put it, that's not going to change … it's just knowing at times we might need to pull it back and make sure we're getting the most important thing right first , and that's our skill. "

But Clarke found an ally in beloved former opener Matthew Hayden, who told dinner at the SCG on Wednesday night: "You don't play because you want to have a masters in being a good bloke."

Know know I know what our truth is as Australian cricketers. We play our best cricket when you´re fighting. Now the word "fight 'evokes fist fights, verbal diarrhea and racial and religious taunts. It's nothing about that, "Hayden said, as reported by Fairfax.

‘‘ It’s about a body language and it’s about the fact that Australians, our this is our country, ’this is our country. And on our watch we want to try and win. And I think that's really what Michael is trying to say – that's about that competitive edge.

"I know if we lose that, and even our great era of Australian cricket when we lost that edge – and I'm thinking back of the post test match against India here – and everyone was a bit punched by that incident and a bit are we worried about 'were we overstepping the mark?' and we just started to play poorly. And I don't think that's right.

‘‘ My expectations as a fan, forget about the former player, is that our athletes will be able to play the game. I think that 's the mindset that we need to play our best in any code.'

New coach Justin Langer and Paine, a free era of verbal abuse and a pugnacious streak, has attracted plenty of push back.

South Africa skipper Faf du Plessis noted how "tame" Australia was a recent ODI series, while Shane Warne and former England captain Michael Vaughan had both mocked the players' pact.

Clarke became the latest high-profile player to express criticism on Tuesday, calling for Paine to return to "tough Australian cricket".

"If you try and walk away from it, we might be the most like the team in the world, (but) we’re not going to win s ***. We won't win a game. Boys and girls want to win, "Clarke said on Macquarie Sports Radio.

The comments were slammed by SEN commentator Gerard Whateley. "Clarke’s interpretation of the Australian men's test team found itself is breathtaking," Whateley said. "That he would continue to rely on the line – the fiction and subsequent teams used to excuse all manner of boorish behavior – might be the single greatest piece of nonsense over the past nine months.

"The Test summer before us is a critical moment of recalibration and Paine and his team is left with the tremendous responsibility of restoring the national cricketing character deserve better than what Clarke is espousing. To hear it, to read it just made me angry. "

Longtime rival Clarke Simon Katich also hits back at the former skipper.

"Miss someone (Clarke) is missing the point," Katich told the SEN radio station.

"We have been able to get back and forth, and we have been able to get back to the public in Australia and worldwide. Our behavior is a big part of that.

"We've been disliked a team for years of on-field behavior and it came to a head in Cape Town.

"It's a tough battle for this team taking on the burden of what comes before them. It's not going to be easy. "

But Clark hit back at Whateley, calling him a "headline chasing cow" in a strongly-worded statement.

The recent Ethics Center report, commissioned by Cricket Australia (CA) following the Cape Town cheating scandal, expressed concerns about the team's culture of winning without counting the cost and the "normalization of verbal abuse in Australian cricket".

Langer, who met with both Smith and Warner, recently while in Sydney, is tired of talking about its side behavior.

"I'm not sure what people want from us," he said last week.

"We can't confuse the messages. On the one hand you're too aggressive and probably stepped over the line. Now we’re getting called tame. "

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