We can't just rely on Steve Smith - Paine thrilled with Australia batting depth

By Sports Desk December 15, 2019

Tim Paine knows Australia cannot afford to simply rely on Steve Smith to hold together innings after they prevailed in the first Test against New Zealand despite another disappointing batting performance from their Ashes hero.

Australia prevailed by 296 runs in Perth after a dominant display in a game Smith contributed little to with the bat.

Smith scored 43 in the first innings and could add only 16 in the second, though Australia still built a lead of 467 despite his relative struggles.

New Zealand were bowled out for 171 in pursuit of 468, the win marking Australia's third successive triumph after a whitewash of Pakistan in which Smith managed just 40 runs across two innings.

Performances of the ridiculous standards he produced in the drawn Ashes series with England, in which he scored a mammoth 774 runs in four Tests, have not been required recently as the likes of David Warner and Marnus Labuschagne have flourished.

Asked about his side's batting, captain Paine told reporters: "At the end of the Ashes, we needed other guys to stand up... [we] can't be just reliant on Steve.

"That's what we are going to have to do to be one of the better teams in the world.

"I think certainly over the last 18 months there has been drastic improvement in this cricket team.

"We're moving in the right direction and happy the way we've played the last three tests. We're still improving and getting better."

The opening match of the three-game series was marked by both attacks sending down a barrage of short balls.

"We were just having a laugh when we were bowling at their tail that it's going to be a bit of bodyline for a lot of the series," Paine said.

"They're very skilled at executing that [short] ball and they set great fields for it. So it's a completely different challenge to what you get from other teams."

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