It is safe to say that a new era in Australian cricket will herald when Tim Paine & Co. take on England in a five-match One-Day International series.
The series will be first since the ball-tampering scandal that tarnished Australian cricket’s image.
Cameron Bancroft was sensationally caught applying sandpaper on the ball to change its state, and the repercussions soon followed. The scandal brought wholesome changes in Australian cricket. ICC banned skipper Steven Smith for one match before Cricket Australia dealt with the scandal with a stern hand.
It banned Smith and his deputy David Warner for a year and handed Bancroft a nine-month ban. Not only that, Darren Lehmann also stepped down as head coach for the same reason. Early this week, James Sutherland resigned as Cricket Australia’s chief executive, thus ending his 20-year association with the board.
Australia appointed Tim Paine as skipper in ODIs and Tests while the T20I captaincy went to Aaron Finch.
Justin Langer replaced Lehmann as the head coach. With Australia now gearing up to move on from all the setbacks, Paine said the upcoming series is 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).
Paine said new faces and a new coach would help the team move on.
“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 said.
Australia are also without their pace trio of Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood, along with all-rounder Mitchell Marsh.
All the players missed out due to various injuries. Paine, however, sees it as an opportunity for the players coming in to stand up and prove their selections.
“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.
Paine admitted England are playing well but is confident of winning the series against the world number-one side.
“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,” he said.
A one-off T20I will follow the ODI series. The team from Down Under will then head to Zimbabwe for a tri-series tour that involves Pakistan and the hosts.