Paine's pain a familiar refrain as Australia's dire year ends flat

时间:2019-11-16 责任编辑:简钛芤 来源:合乐888手机网页版 点击:13 次

Once again, Tim Paine walks in to front the cameras at the end of a match where his side has been flogged.

There will be no shortage of moments that the Australian captain remembers about the year he ascended to the job, but he won’t quickly forget these sorry post mortems, mostly due to the sheer volume of them.

They were always going to be frequent given the way he inherited the position, just as there were going to be more days than not when he was walking out to bat with Australia five down for sod all. And so it was once again in Melbourne.

On this occasion, he took his seat to begin the final grim commitment of 2018 as the Indians welcomed back their captain Virat Kohli to their adjoining room - their celebrations audible through the walls of the Melbourne Ground basement.

Five days earlier, the locals dared to dream they would be doing the same after stitching together such an impressive victory in Perth. But instead, their final outing of 2018 mirrored the year as a whole.

Naturally, Paine is craving the months ahead where there is the strong possibility that he will be joined by the best two batsmen in the country. That too will bring teething problems – how could it not? – but the 200 or so runs that the Steve Smith/David Warner axis brings on average to each Test will ensure their return, not that it was really ever in doubt.

“That’s pretty clear,” Paine began when explaining, matter-of-factly, why Australia’s batting cannot compete consistently.

“If you took [Cheteshwar] Pujara and Virat [Kohli] out of India’s side you’d have the same conversation. If you’ve got world-class players that aren’t in your team, are they going to add to our team? I think they will.”

The Spin: sign up and get our weekly cricket email.

The “silver lining” to the start of the new year, the skipper noted, is that they are three Tests away from selection.

“What’s happened has happened,” he continued. “We’re getting towards the end when those guys are coming back. That’s what the conversation should be now. It’s all been out there.

“People have had their say and the guys have nearly finished their bans and done their time so it’s time we started focusing on the fact they’re coming back and there are real positives.”

The destination of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy now confirmed, Australia’s face-saving task is avoiding series defeat from their visitors for the first time on home soil, to be attempted with a batting line up so badly exposed.

“It’s inexperience and pressure,” Paine said of his juniors colleagues “learning on the job” this summer. “India’s bowling attack is probably as good as most of these guys have ever faced.”

India players celebrate the win as Ishant Sharma dismisses Nathan Lyon. Photograph: Michael Dodge/Getty Images

These factors, on a flat pitch where patience was paramount, was a dangerous combination that ran the risk of overwhelming his top six.

“They’re seeing that they’re good enough at this level, it’s just a little bit of a mind thing where a couple of them need a big score to really and truly believe they belong at Test level and can succeed at Test level,” Paine said of the top order’s performance. One with so many starts burned before maturing into meaningful contributions.

“They [India’s bowlers] grind you down and force you to make a mistake.”

At selection, no pick sums up Australia’s quandary quite like Marnus Labuschagne, who has been added to the SCG squad. Winning his baggy green in the UAE, taking seven handy wickets with his leg spin and making a couple of starts with the bat, he will return to the XI in place of Mitch Marsh if the surface looks set to turn.

The Queenslander has scored just 254 runs in the Sheffield Shield this season at an average of 28. As for the vice captain, the best Paine can say is that he hasn’t been dumped entirely: “We know Mitch at his best can offer a lot to Australian cricket. We just need to make sure he’s at his best more often than not and like the rest of us the gap between his best and his worst gets smaller all the time.”

Aaron Finch has also retained his spot on the plane to Sydney, but Paine – who acknowledged that they don’t have a lot of batting options to look to at state level - did not dispute that if he is retained in the team that it might be down the order.

“There will be a lot of things on the table in the next day or two,” he replied. “We’ve got the best group of players available to us at the moment and we’ll pick the best combination out of that group that we think will win.”

The one thing certain is that Australia’s annus horribilis can’t end a day too soon.