“We know the task ahead of us is enormous and England have been playing some quality one-day cricket” – Paine © Getty
Australia’s mission of recuperating and moving on from the ball-tampering scandal begins in England as they take on the hosts in a five-match One-Day International series, a series which they are confident of winning with skipper Tim Paine viewing it as an opportunity to build up towards the World Cup next year.
“There’s no doubt our reputation as a cricketing nation took a bit of a battering from South Africa,” Paine said on Wednesday (May 6), who returned to Lord’s after July 2010 when he made his Test debut. “That was really difficult for the players to come to terms with what had happened and what we’d done, but coming to England now, having a few new faces, new coach, just getting back into cricket is a great opportunity to move on and show the cricketing world where we have made some changes.
“They’re not huge changes that we’re making, just (tweaking) some things that had started to slip over a period of time,” he added, referring to the behavioural changes that Australia strive to implement going forward in the aftermath of the incident in South Africa where the visitors were largely criticised for their on and off-field demeanour.
Australia come into the series without just the services of Smith and David Warner, who copped 12-month suspensions, but also their pace trio of Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood, along with all-rounder Mitchell Marsh, who miss out due to various injuries. Paine, however, sees it as an opportunity for the guys coming in to stand up and prove their selections, confident that Australia can reverse the 4-1 loss that they were handed by England last summer at home.
“It’s an opportunity for other guys to come in, particularly in those batting spots and fill the void,” he said. “From a bowling sense, not having our ‘Big 3’ here is a really great opportunity for some guys who are probably a little bit better than what people around the world know, to be honest. They’ve got some really good skills, they’ve got some good pace, and we come here with some real confidence we can win this.
“We know the task ahead of us is enormous and England have been playing some quality one-day cricket. It’s a great test, we’re going to know where we’re at, but we don’t see any reason why we can’t win this series.”
While the primary focus will be on the series ahead, the Australian management will also be looking ahead to the World Cup next year, with candidates potentially putting their hands up for the global event. With five of the mainstay players missing out, the opportunity only comes as a blessing in disguise for them.
“If we want to come here and win the World Cup next year we have got to have really good depth, really good competition in Australian cricket so it’s really hard to get into the first XI,” Langer said. “It opens up some opportunities. It sounds like a cliche but that’s what we’re selling our players on: this is a great opportunity for us to build a team,” he added.
Australia will have three training sessions at Lord’s before two warm-up games against Sussex and Middlesex at Hove and Lord’s respectively before the first game of the series at the Kennington Oval in London on June 13.
“One of the first things we did was walk a slow lap together just to sort of soak it in, the history and tradition that come here,” Paine said. “We also had a mention of the World Cup final herein 12 monthsas, I suppose, a pipe dream for our guys to continue to work really hard towards,” he added.
The ODI series will be followed like a one-off T20I before Australia head to Zimbabwe for a tri-series tour that involves Pakistan and the hosts.