Tim Paine, the Australian captain, hopes his embattled team can return to being “heroes” as Australia embarks on their first outing since the ball tampering fiasco.
The Australian ODI squad will depart for the UK on Monday (May 28) for next month’s five-match series against England. All eyes will be on player behaviour in the aftermath of the scandal, which saw former leaders Steve Smith and David Warner, along with culprit Cameron Bancroft, heavily suspended.
Attempting to regroup from the nasty fallout, Paine along with new coach Justin Langer have spoken during Australia’s pre-tour camp in Brisbane about the team’s need to uphold a strict behavioural standard.
“The thing Justin said the other day is we want the Australian cricket team to be heroes of young kids in Australia,” Paine told reporters in Brisbane on Monday. “We’ve had spirit of cricket documents, code of conduct documents, but at the end of the day they mean nothing if you don’t act on them and don’t live by them.
“That’s been a huge focus for us, has been around our actions, our behaviours and making sure we live up to the standards that the Australian cricket team should,” he added. “So we’ve spoken about it, but getting on a plane tonight now, we get to go over there and talk through our actions, which the guys are looking forward to.”
In the fourth Test against South Africa, immediately after the scandal hit, a sedate Australia struggled to find the necessary fire as they were embarrassingly thrashed by 492 runs. Paine was confident Australia could strike the right balance between being respectful and competitive.
“We’re not going over there to make up the numbers or to be the nicest Australian cricket team to ever play against. We’re going there to win,” he said. “We’re going to be really competitive, at the same time we’re going to be really respectful, but we’re going there to win.”
The series against England looms as a tough task for Australia, whose form has been patchy in the ODI arena in recent times. With Smith and Warner absent, spots have opened up in Australia’s batting order just 12 months out from next year’s World Cup.
“At the moment we haven’t got too specific into things,” Paine said. “We’ve got 10 or 12 days where we’ll really nut things out about how our team sets up. I’m sure we’ll try a few different combinations in the practice games leading into the first game.”
Without their batting superstars, Paine believed mercurial allrounder Glenn Maxwell could help fill the sizeable void. “I think he’s, even at international level, an out-and-out match-winner,” he said. “If we can get Maxy playing in a role he’s really comfortable in and it complements our team, he can be really important for us this series.”
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