Shared News • Last updated on Mon, 25 Jun, 2018, 08:19 AM
“We know when we get our best team on the park, when we’re playing our best cricket we’re going to be right in the thick of it” – Paine © Getty
Australia’s inability to “put a full game together” throughout the five-match ODI series in England spelled doom for them, reckons skipper Tim Paine. On Sunday (June 24), the tourists played their best cricket on the tour and came agonisingly close to picking up their first win of the series, but for a magnificent Jos Buttler. The hosts went from bad to worse in the fifth ODI as they slipped from 27 for 4 to 86 for 6 and then to 114 for 8 while chasing 206 to win. Buttler batted brilliantly with the last two batsmen, adding 81 runs for the ninth wicket with Adil Rashid, before hitting the winning runs in the penultimate over to hand England a clean sweep. That Buttler knock, in Paine’s words, ‘stung’.
“That one stung,” Paine told Sky Sports. “Not as difficult as Trent Bridge but we’ve certainly been taught a lesson by a world-class outfit. For the majority of the innings we bowled really well, really straight, bowled a good length and created chances. I just think there was half an hour there where we bowled a touch wide. But apart from that I felt like our bowlers were outstanding today and certainly not to blame for the loss,” the skipper noted.
Paine, though, who’s portrayed himself as a beacon of optimism throughout this short captaincy stint, spoke with hope how there will be ‘light at the end of the tunnel.’ There are very few positives that Australia can take from the series, like Travis Head’s form – he struck three fifties, pacers Billy Stanlake and Kane Richardson’s exploits and the tactical nous shown through the introduction of Ashton Agar against an in-form Jason Roy. “But again in this game we have shown glimpses with bat and ball that there is certainly some real talent in the squad. And while it has been a bitterly disappointing series, I suppose (there is) a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel.”
However at the heart of Australia’s never ending rut has been their inability to put in a collective show. “We haven’t been able to put a full game together at any stage and I think it has shown throughout the whole series,” Paine said. “Every time England’s good players have put us under pressure, with the bat or the ball, we have stumbled a little bit, and that’s probably again what happened today. We got off to a great start then Moeen came on, who has had a pretty good series against us, and guys are probably just over-thinking it a bit. He ends up with 4-40 again and we are in trouble again and have to re-build a bit.”
The only fact from which Paine and his boys can take heart from is that this side played without most of the mainstays – Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins and all-rounder Mitchell Marsh, and it is this why the skipper believes that Australia cannot be counted out at next year’s World Cup in England. “We’ve got a number of players who weren’t in this squad who have played in and won World Cups. They know what it takes. Cricket Australia as an organisation knows what it takes and whilst I’ve heard a few times this team looks like it hasn’t got a plan or doesn’t know where it’s going, we’ve got a clear direction, we know where we’re going,” Paine observed.
“We know we’re a long way off the mark at the moment but the World Cup is not for 12 months. We know when we get our best team on the park, when we’re playing our best cricket we’re going to be right in the thick of it.”