Upbeat Paine envisages 'very exciting era' for Australia
Tim Paine foresees a "very exciting era" for Australian cricket after the team retained the Ashes against England. The series was fiercely competitive filled with ebbs and flows and drawn 2-2 fittingly, with Australia keeping hold of the urn as the Ashes holders despite losing the last Test at the Oval by a colossal margin of 135 runs.
"I'm looking forward to Australia seeing how far we've come this summer," Paine mentioned in a column for The Australian newspaper, referring to upcoming home Tests against Pakistan and New Zealand. The Pakistan tour will begin from 3rd November with a three-match T20 series.
"Last year we were a bit lost and were finding our way," he opined after the shoddy performance in the aftermath of the ignoble Sandpapergate scandal that culminated in South Africa.
Showing faith in the current pool of players Paine stated: "I know we have found it now and I am confident this group is the beginning of a very exciting era in Australian cricket. We've got the best bowling attack in the world and the basis for a great batting line-up."
Australia retained the precious urn largely because of the giant Steve Smith in their batting line-up. He amassed 774 runs in a mere seven innings and his penchant for scoring tons brought Australia back in the Test matches from many dicey situations.
Paine calls Smith "a freak"
Paine called Smith "a freak" while also expressing his satisfaction with Marnus Labuschagne as having "a huge future" after he got the surprise opportunity to play in the Lord's Test where he made history as international cricket's first concussion substitute before his spellbinding half-century helped Australia draw the second Ashes Test. The temperamentally strong Labuschagne comes of age as a reliable middle-order batsman.
Five Tests took a toll on some of the players as Paine said the last game was a struggle for himself and his teammate Peter Siddle — who is in the twilight of his career.
"My thumb was broken towards the end of that Test but it is not displaced, so I should be right to get back into training early."
"He has copped a bit of criticism for not bowling as well as... we know he can, but the team knows just how heroic he was," said Paine while acknowledging Siddle's work ethic who was playing with a hip injury.
"A lot of other people wouldn't have bowled again in the match, but he pushed on because he didn't want to leave Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins to do extra work," he added.
First, the ICC World Cup 2019 campaign followed by the Ashes and with five home Tests commencing from November 21, Paine said he direly needs a break and will skip this year's Big Bash League Twenty20 competition.
"Being captain is draining and I think I should take every chance to recharge my batteries," he remarked.