Qantas Tour of England - ODIs
Paine puts bus journeys to good use
Australia skipper Tim Paine keeps his cards close to his chest on his XI for The Oval, but there were a few hints at training on Wednesday
Dave Middleton at The Oval, London
13 June 2018, 11:03 AM AEST
Laying prone on The Oval outfield, Tim Paine read from a notebook. Circled around him was the internationally inexperienced bowling group Australia will tonight turn to in their bid to take down the world's best ODI side.
Australia are renewed, and eager to put the tumult of the previous three months behind them. They meet England in the first of five ODIs tonight.
Paine has hatched his plans riding the bus. Journeys from the team's Kensington digs to the London venues – Lord's north of the river Thames, The Oval south of it – take some time winding through the capital's bustling traffic.
It has given Paine time to think, time to bond with his teammates, and time to devise the methods to nullify England, which he ran through with his bowlers on the turf on match eve.
When the circle broke, there were back slaps and handshakes for Michael Neser. The Queenslander was drafted into the squad as an 11th hour emergency replacement when Josh Hazlewood reported back soreness.
Neser has impressed with his vim and vigour. He played both warm-ups against county opposition, and toiled hard with bat and ball. He could play his first international tonight.
Paine played his cards close to his chest in public – an XI would be named only at the coin toss.
"We're pretty clear on what we're doing," he said. "We've got lots of options through the middle order, different options at the top and lots of options with the ball."
Those bus rides are manna from heaven for Paine, a self-confessed cricket "nuffie".
"I am always talking cricket and trying to help my teammates, so we’re lucky in England where we spend a lot of time on the bus together," Paine said.
"It is about making the most of those 40-minute drives every morning and making sure I am sitting with some of our younger quicks and younger teammates who I feel I haven’t spoken to in a little while."
The team balance Australia will take into this opening ODI remains unclear. Justin Langer spoke of his preference for playing five front-line bowlers, with bowlers who can bat at numbers seven and eight, name-checking Ashton Agar and Neser.
He also spoke of his preference for Marcus Stoinis and Shaun Marsh at numbers three and four. Stoinis hit a century in the first outing against Sussex, and was rested for the second, with Marsh coming in, and he scored 49.
Aaron Finch scored 78 opening in the first game, and another half-century in the middle order in the second.
Travis Head was one of four wickets to fall in a collapse in the opening game, but struck a century as opener in the second, declaring his desire to bat as high as possible after the match.
Finch has played 88 ODIs for Australia, and opened in all of them. He averages 55 against England, having scored five of his 10 hundreds, but those five have all been plundered on home soil.
Head's strike-rate in ODIs is 87.71, drawing criticism he is too slow for the modern 50-over game. But he averages 58 at opener, and hit 96 there against England last summer.
D'Arcy Short has yet to shake concerns against spin bowling, and pushing him down the order would expose him to England's twin tweakers Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid. A nod for him would be an ODI debut, and fitting for the proudly Indigenous player following the conclusion of the Aboriginal XI tour on Tuesday.
Glenn Maxwell's form in the county clashes was poor, but he dominated in an intra-squad match. He remains a match-winner on his day, and will get his chance tonight, buoyed by the arrival of his mentor Ricky Ponting, with both looking to put an indifferent IPL season behind them.
Langer is a legend but Ponting is next level. His presence boosts the group.
"What he has brought to this group (is) when he’s around guys walk a little bit taller," Paine said.
His appetite for the game is as insatiable as ever. First in the nets, last to leave. He put Maxwell and Short through advanced fielding drills and was eagle-eyed in the nets. What a confidence boost to smash one out of the middle in the nets, look up and see Ponting applauding.
Agar said the presence of these legends made the players feel proud – a quality that hasn't always been there in Australian cricket in the past little while.
But now it's back, and so is cricket, and this Australian side can move the game on.
The first ODI will be broadcast live on GEM, with coverage starting at 9.30pm AEST.
England: (possible XI) Roy, Bairstow, Hales, Root, Morgan (c), Moeen, Buttler (wk), Willey, Plunkett, Rashid, Wood.
Australia: (possible XI) Head, Short, Stoinis , S Marsh, Finch, Maxwell, Paine (c, wk), Agar, Neser, K Richardson, Stanlake.
Qantas tours of England and Zimbabwe
ODI squad: Tim Paine (c), Aaron Finch (vc), Ashton Agar, Alex Carey, Travis Head, Nathan Lyon, Glenn Maxwell, Shaun Marsh, Michael Neser, Jhye Richardson, Kane Richardson, D’Arcy Short, Billy Stanlake, Marcus Stoinis, Andrew Tye
England ODI squad: Eoin Morgan (c), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Jake Ball, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Tom Curran, Alex Hales, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes (injured), David Willey, Chris Woakes (injured), Mark Wood
T20 squad: Aaron Finch (c), Alex Carey (vc), Ashton Agar, Travis Head, Nic Maddinson, Glenn Maxwell, Jhye Richardson, Kane Richardson, D’Arcy Short, Billy Stanlake, Marcus Stoinis, Mitchell Swepson, Andrew Tye, Jack Wildermuth
Qantas Tour of England
June 13: First ODI, The Oval (D/N)
June 16: Second ODI, Cardiff
June 19: Third ODI, Trent Bridge (D/N)
June 21: Fourth ODI, Durham (D/N)
June 24: Fifth ODI, Old Trafford
June 27: Only T20, Edgbaston (D/N)
Qantas T20I tri-series Tour of Zimbabwe
July 1: Zimbabwe vs Pakistan
July 2: Pakistan vs Australia
July 3: Australia vs Zimbabwe
July 4: Zimbabwe vs Pakistan
July 5: Pakistan vs Australia
July 6: Australia vs Zimbabwe
July 8: Final