Tim Paine, the Australia captain, can’t wait for the Ashes. It’s the biggest series he’ll be involved in, he says, and it’s all he’s thinking about.
Paine took charge of Australia a little less than a year ago, and had to steady the ship in a horrible time for the team, following the sandpaper scandal. A year on, normality is set to return to Australia, with David Warner, Steve Smith and Cameron Bancroft all set to be available for selection again.
Paine can’t wait for them to be back, not just because the squad will be stronger, but because the team can then, once and for all, leave the controversies behind and concentrate on the Ashes.
Cameron Bancroft: 138* and 86
Marcus Harris: 95 and 174
Joe Burns: 60 and 80
Who do you think should open the batting for Australia in the Ashes?https://t.co/oRFtKTlYpQ
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) February 26, 2019
“We are really looking forward to get those guys back in around our team,” he told Cricbuzz. “When that happens, we can completely sort of start to move forward.
“There’s always been that sort of in the background, where we’re trying to move forward but we know that these guys are going to be back at some stage. So it’ll be great when they actually are back, and we can all look into the future.”
For his part, Paine is doing everything he can to be ready for the Ashes. It begins on August 1 – just a couple of weeks after the final of the World Cup 2019 on July 14 – and he wants to be “at my absolute best” for a series he has dreamed of playing in as a kid.
“All the time I’m batting in the nets now, whether that’s good or bad I’m not sure, I’m thinking about batting over there [in England]. You know the improvements I want to make to my game are for when I get there.
“This is obviously the biggest series I’ll ever be involved in, and I’ll clearly get only one chance to play an international series in England. That’s a dream come true for me as a kid growing up, watching it on telly, and realising how big it is over there, and how hard it is to win, and being a part of a series like that is the pinnacle for me.
“I want to make sure I’m at my absolute best when I get over there.”
Pat Cummins has received the much coveted Allan Border Medal at the 2019 Australian Cricket Awards.
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) February 11, 2019
Paine also believes Australia will be a lot stronger heading into the Ashes, and not just because of the return of the banned trio.
“We are starting to get more depth,” he said. “Bancroft as well scored a lot of runs in his first game back. Marcus Harris has got a 100 and something not out and 90 in the first innings. Kurtis Patterson has scored another hundred, Travis Head is scoring consistent runs and Matthew Wade is scoring consistent runs.
“Suddenly you’ve got a backlog of batters, and 12 months ago, we thought the cupboard was pretty bare.”