Tim Paine would "fully support" Steve Smith if he succeeds him as Australia Test captain but says there are other strong contenders for the job

Smith's two-year ban from leadership roles at international level for his part in the Newlands ball-tampering scandal ended this week.

Paine stepped up to replace Smith as skipper following his suspension and although the 35-year-old is in the twilight of his career, he has no intention of standing down just yet.

The wicketkeeper would back Smith should he get another chance to lead Australia, but believes there are alternative options for the powers that be to consider.

Paine said of Smith: "He's captain of the Rajasthan Royals in the IPL and Welsh Fire in The Hundred; it's something he loves doing.

"If Steve Smith decides that's the way he wants to go then I'd fully support him in trying to do so again."

He added: "We've got a number of guys to choose from who can put their hand up.

"There's Steve Smith, who's done it before, or the people who are developing underneath like a Travis Head or an Alex Carey -- Marnus Labuschagne and Pat Cummins are other ones.

"We're starting to build some real depth so that when my time's up we've got a number of options."

Paine has given thought to when he will step aside during a time of such uncertainty amid a coronavirus shutdown, but is giving nothing away.

"I know what I'm thinking, in terms of how far I can play on and we're [Paine, the selectors and head coach Justin Langer] on the same page," he told reporters via video conference.

Tim Paine said his car was broken into after the Australia Test captain set up a home gym amid the coronavirus pandemic.

COVID-19 has brought sport to a standstill, with cricket on hiatus due to the global health emergency, which has claimed more than 37,800 lives.

Attempting to stay fit amid the shutdown, Paine relocated his car onto the street and transformed his garage into a home gym in Hobart, where the wicketkeeper was robbed.

"I woke up this morning to a message from NAB saying I had some interesting movements on my account," Paine told reporters on Tuesday.

"I went out and the [car] door was open and my wallet and a few other things had gone.

"Actually looking at my account, the boys went straight to Maccas [McDonalds] – the boys must have been hungry."

"Since that went on radio, I've had a message from [sponsor] Kookaburra and they're going to send me some balls on a string that I can hook up in the garage and start training," added Paine.

While happy at home, Paine said: "Steve Smith, David Warner – guys like that, they're high energy, they love to train so this would be a real eye opener for them.

"I think [Smith] is doing a 10km run every day so hopefully he doesn't come back as a skeleton. But him and Marnus [Labuschagne] and Davey are probably the three I worry about.

"They don't like sitting still, and Steve and Marnus don't like not batting for too long. And Davey – he literally can't sit still.

"Davey has got a home gym so he will be in there literally 24/7 and Steve and Marnus would have some kind of contraption where they're hitting balls, or they've got their wives are feeding them balls because there's no way those two are going a week without batting."

Paine also conceded June's two-Test tour of Bangladesh is unlikely to go ahead as scheduled due to coronavirus.

The first Test is set to start on June 11 and Paine said: "You don't have to be Einstein to realise it is probably unlikely to go ahead, particularly in June. Whether it's cancelled or pushed back, we're not quite sure at the moment."

Marnus Labuschagne might get through a lot of chewing gum, but he sees no reason to change his batting ritual after playing a starring role in Australia's 3-0 series whitewash of New Zealand.

Australia completed their series sweep thanks to a David Warner century and another five-for from Nathan Lyon, as they sealed a resounding 279-run win in the third Test in Sydney.

Warner's unbeaten 111 led Australia to 217-2, Tim Paine declaring with a 415-run lead, and a comprehensive win was secured as the Black Caps were skittled for 136.

Labuschagne, who scored 215 runs in the first innings and hit 59 in the second, finished with 549 runs for the three-match series.

"It's been an amazing summer," he said at the post-match presentation where he was given the man-of-the-match and man-of-the-series awards.

"It's so special to share these moments with your family, who have been part of your journey. It's hard to put [the success] on one thing, but my level of concentration and not doing any silly things.

"A lot of gum but it's working, so why change. I just love the journey and it's been wonderful being part of this Australian team."

Labuschagne, along with Steve Smith and Warner, won praise from Paine, who says he is honoured to captain an Australia side ranked second in the ICC World Test Championship, while adding he hopes success on the pitch provides the nation with some enjoyment amid the ongoing bushfire crisis.

"I am very lucky to captain this group," the captain said. "Batting has become very consistent with Marnus leading this year and Steve and David back.

"It's a pretty simple task for me at times, to be honest. I think we can still get better, there were moments in this series as well when we were not at our best.

"We are really pleased with the progress we have made in the last 12 months but we know have some big series coming up.

"It hasn't been a great few weeks for our country. Our goal as a team is to give the Australians some entertainment. But our thoughts go out to them and firefighters are doing a great job."

New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson, meanwhile, acknowledged, his side must learn from their humbling defeat.

"Credit to the Australian team," Williamson said. "They were clinical but they put us under pressure session after session. There's so much to learn from this experience.

"We have a bit of time off, so a bit of regrouping. We were outplayed in all departments. There are number of things to work on and improve upon.

"For a number of guys, it's the first time here and you must appreciate it because you won't get this experience anywhere else."

Tim Paine backed staff to make the right decisions amid concerns over poor air quality during Australia's third Test against New Zealand in Sydney.

Bushfires are raging across Australia, including in New South Wales, leading to concerns over the air quality ahead of the Test at the SCG.

Paine said he had discussed the issue ahead of the Test, which begins on Friday, amid worries over the players' health.

"Not at the moment I'm not [concerned], but again we're lucky that in the Australian setup we've got world-class doctors and people that are put in place to make those decisions," the Australia captain told a news conference.

"As a playing group we're just focusing on what we can control which is going out and playing and we'll be doing that until we're told otherwise.

"I've been given a sort of rough guide but basically when it gets smoky, we're coming off.

"Our doc I think is having a pretty big say in reading the levels of air quality and stuff like that so I think it's all set, we know the number. If it happens it happens and unfortunately that's life."

Australia, leading the three-Test series 2-0, are set to go in unchanged despite expectations the pitch in Sydney is set to be spin-friendly.

Paine said Australia would wait to make a decision, with leg-spinner Mitchell Swepson part of the squad, adding they could either drop a batsman or paceman if they wanted to play another spinner.

"We've got some guys in and around our squad that provide quite a bit of flexibility," he said.

"I think even with someone like James Pattinson can really lengthen our batting anyway.

"We're lucky that we can go either way, both have sort of been discussed a little bit, I think our preference would be to keep the winning combination together."

Australia captain Tim Paine hailed the collective contributions of his batting line-up after a crushing 247-run win over New Zealand in Melbourne.

The hosts wrapped up a series-clinching victory with a game to spare in the three-match rubber after Nathan Lyon (4-81) and James Pattinson (3-35) impressed with the ball to dismiss the Black Caps for 240 in their second innings – makeshift opener Tom Blundell's superb 121 sounding the lone note of day-four defiance.

By contrast, Australia's first-innings centurion and man of the match Travis Head was backed up by fifties from Steve Smith, Marnus Labuschagne and Paine.

Further handy contributions from David Warner and Matthew Wade set up a total of 467 – establishing a dominant position Australia never relinquished.

"I thought the way we went about this Test from the moment we lost the toss was outstanding," Paine said at the post-match presentation.

"I thought our batters applied themselves superbly on day one and made it easy for Trav and I on the second day to set up a big total.

"Then I thought our bowlers, led by Pat Cummins in the first innings, were superb. James Pattinson started the rot today.

"We're sharing the load. We can't rely on too few and good teams have guys contributing throughout the list and we're starting to do that."

Australia were allowed to post their imposing total by Kane Williamson electing to field after winning the toss, against a backdrop of questionable recent surfaces at the MCG.

"I felt like there was enough in the surface to bowl first and it was obviously very important for us to be on top of our game," said Williamson, who was pinned lbw for nought by Pattinson in the second innings, having been dismissed by the same bowler for nine first time around.

"The surface did offer some sideways movement and swing but credit to Australia for getting through that first session and putting 400 on the board.

"They've got a fantastic attack with pace and bounce but their accuracy stood apart and they did seem to get more out of that surface. All round from our perspective we need to be better in all departments.

"We do need to be better come Sydney. We haven't been at our best but it is important that we try and learn really quickly and improve in all areas."

The final Test of the series begins at the SCG on Thursday next week.

Travis Head believes his century against New Zealand shows he has matured as a Test batsman and he has hailed Australia captain Tim Paine for his assistance.

Head's 114 helped Australia take control of the second Test against the Black Caps in Melbourne on Friday.

The hosts – leading the three-Test series 1-0 – made 467 in their first innings, with Steve Smith (85) and Paine (79) also contributing big scores.

Middle-order batsman Head, who hit a Test century against Sri Lanka earlier in the year, scored 56 in his first innings in the Perth Test, though only managed five in his second stint at the crease, and was publicly criticised by former Australia captain Ricky Ponting.

However, Head stated he has proved he has added more maturity to his game with his century at the MCG.

"I've been really happy with how I've been starting innings over the last few months, especially this season, so it was about making sure I go on," Head told reporters.

"I was more disappointed getting out in the second innings [in Perth] and looking back to how my week panned out, probably even more frustrated after my second innings about the first innings.

"Over the last couple of years, as I've matured I've been able to get more hundreds. It was pretty lean early days in my career and I think over the last two or three years I've been able to get big scores and go on with that.

"As I was younger, I think I tried to get through those 90s a bit quicker than I should have, and over time you get more mature and you can relax, and I was happy to do it in ones.

"Happy to nudge my way there, it probably took a bit longer than I thought, but New Zealand bowled some really good spells where it was very difficult to score, so pretty proud of the fact I was able to keep them out there."

Australia skipper Paine has at times come under scrutiny for his own batting, but Head insisted the wicketkeeper played a huge part in helping him claim the century.

"I think it helped that Tim came out and struck the ball as well as he did," Head added.

"Definitely took a lot of pressure off me, I don't think I changed the way I went about it, especially to [Neil] Wagner, Tim took him on and played exceptionally well and was very positive, plays the pull and hook shots extremely well.

"That was his game plan and at the other end [a] left-hand, right-hand [combination] definitely helped with the momentum and putting pressure back on their bowlers. Exceptional day for Tim as well and he took a lot of pressure off me in the partnership."

Pat Cummins is "clearly the best bowler in the world" and is only getting better with experience according to Australia captain Tim Paine.

Paceman Cummins is the ICC's top-ranked Test bowler and this year became the second fastest Australian quick to 100 wickets in cricket's longest format.

Cummins will feature for Australia in the second Test against New Zealand, which starts on Thursday, and returns to the MCG where he took 6-27 and hit 63 against India in last year's Boxing Day Test, which the hosts lost.

Skipper Paine hailed the talents of the 26-year-old, who has 134 wickets in 28 Tests at an average of 22.18.

"He's clearly the best bowler in the world, his stats will probably back that up," said Paine, whose side hold a 1-0 lead over the Black Caps in the three-match series.

"Not just for one series, or one Test, or two Tests here or there, he's done it every game.

"I think he's getting better with experience as well, I think you're noticing he's not always bowling high-140s anymore, which is a great, great attribute and skill."

Tim Paine revealed Australia were yet to decide whether to play a fifth bowler in the Boxing Day Test against New Zealand in Melbourne.

With Josh Hazlewood (hamstring) sidelined, James Pattinson is set to come in, but Michael Neser could also be included for a Test debut.

Paine said Australia would wait until Thursday to confirm their line-up as they keep an eye on the MCG wicket, which has been lifeless in recent years and is set to again draw plenty of attention.

The Australia captain said they had "two different teams" ahead of the Test, while playing down any suggestions playing a fifth bowler would be a risk.

"Not looking at the wicket that we played on in the last two or three Boxing Day Test matches, that wicket has been very hard to take 20 wickets," Paine told a news conference on Wednesday.

"If it's something similar to that then it's certainly a possibility that that's the way we go.

"Our batting team in the last few months has been scoring a lot of runs so if we were to go one more bowler we'd be comfortable they would do the job and obviously the bowlers we would be bringing in can all bat.

"Whilst we're taking a batter out we're probably lengthening our line-up a little bit so we'll see what happens tomorrow and go from there."

An additional bowler would mean Paine, who averages 30.40 in Tests, would move up from seven to six in the batting order.

But the 35-year-old is unfazed, saying: "If I have to bat in the top six that's what I'll do.

"I'm not too fussed whether it's six or seven, there's not a huge difference so we're all here to do what we think is best for the team.

"If guys bat up or down the order a little bit more than usual then that's what we'll do, same with our new-ball guys, we swap the new ball around and guys have taken that on board and played their role."

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."

New Zealand are monitoring Trent Boult's fitness ahead of the first Test against an unchanged Australia side at Perth Stadium.

Boult has been troubled by a side strain and could miss the day-night contest, which starts on Thursday.

Batsman Ross Taylor (thumb) and all-rounder Colin de Grandhomme (abdominal muscle) are set to feature in the first of three Tests between the trans-Tasman rivals.

Black Caps captain Kane Williamson said of Boult's availability on the eve of the match: "We're going to have another look today before deciding anything for Thursday.

"I think you look at it as a long-term decision in terms of this whole series. He has tracked really nicely and felt really good on Tuesday."

Lockie Ferguson could make his debut in the longest format after the paceman missed out in a 1-0 win over England.

"It’s exciting we've got Lockie in our squad to consider him," said Williamson. "It's exciting to have a guy in our camp who can bowl at that speed."

Australia have gone with the same side that completed a whitewash of Pakistan.

"We've been playing some really good cricket, happy with the way it's going so we're trying to get a consistent team together and as I touched on after Adelaide, the great thing is we've got guys that are performing really well," Australia skipper Tim Paine said.

"That's what we wanted so we're going to go with the same team."

 

 

Steve Smith has denied suggestions he was trying to undermine Australia captain Tim Paine in the second Test against Pakistan.

Australia earned a resounding innings-and-48-run victory over Pakistan in Adelaide to seal a 2-0 series triumph.

However, Smith – who was replaced by Paine after being banned for his role in the Newlands ball-tampering scandal last year – was accused by ex-skipper Ian Chappell of making field adjustments without first talking to his captain.

Speaking on Macquarie Sports Radio when calling the Test, Chappell said: "I tell you what I don't like to see, Steve Smith is moving a few fieldsmen around.

"He did have a chat with Tim Paine, trying to talk Tim Paine into moving a fielder on the off-side, but I'm not sure Tim Paine moved him as far as Steve Smith wanted.

"Steve Smith started moving him, I hate to see that. England used to do it a bit, blokes other than the captain and I always felt it was white-anting the captain."

Smith, though, insists his intentions were good and his only aim was to try to help the team.

"Look I only try to help Tim as much as I can, you know," he told Channel Nine. 

"He's doing a terrific job. But I give him suggestions and things like that, I only want the team to do well, I'm certainly not undermining him."

Smith was uncharacteristically out of touch with the bat, scoring just 40 runs across the two Tests but, while disappointed on a personal level, was happy to see the team perform to such a high standard.

"I always hate not being out there doing it myself but it's great to see the boys out there play so well and get us two great victories," Smith added.

Tim Paine has called for an end to comparisons between the pink ball and its red counterpart in Test cricket, arguing the day-night format should be embraced for its entertainment value.

Paine saw his Australia side wrap up a 2-0 series win over Pakistan with a dominant victory at Adelaide Oval, the hosts triumphing by an innings and 48 runs.

Critics of the pink ball, including Australia paceman Mitchell Starc, which is used for day-night Tests argue it acts too similarly to a white one in limited-overs cricket.

But the huge attendances in Adelaide, who witnessed David Warner make a triple century, are proof the nuances of day-night cricket must be celebrated, according to Paine.

"I think what we want is people watching Test match cricket and I think the pink-ball day-night Test certainly makes that happen," said Australia's captain.

"It's bringing new people to the game. I think what we need to stop doing is trying to compare the pink ball to the red ball. It's not going to behave the same, it isn't the same ball. 

"From a players' point of view again, day-night Test cricket creates different challenges so the best players will again find way to succeed. And Mitchell Starc has done it. His record is unbelievably good with the pink ball.

"David Warner has just got a triple century. Marnus [Labuschagne] got a 100. All the good players still score runs and take wickets regardless of the colour I think it's just a slight shift in how we think about it. 

"It's not going to behave like a red ball, it's not going to behave like a white ball. It's going to behave like a pink ball. And at the moment it's relatively new and we're getting used to it. 

"It can be a challenging fielding at night and being in the slips but I don't think that's any different to a white ball sometimes either.

"It's just something players will adapt to and get better at but in terms of the product I think it's good to watch."

Tim Paine hopes Australia continue with the tradition of playing their first home Test at the Gabba after a crushing victory over Pakistan at the venue - provided they get Virat Kohli's permission.

A fine century from the brilliant Babar Azam was not enough to prevent Pakistan slipping to an innings defeat on Sunday, the tourists bowled out for 335 in their second innings.

The result stretches Australia's unbeaten run at the venue to 31 Tests – the last visiting team to triumph in Brisbane was West Indies in 1988 – and puts them 1-0 up in the two-match series.

However, captain Paine is unsure if they will be starting at the Gabba again next year, cheekily suggesting the potential schedule for the four-Test series against India is yet to receive the approval of counterpart Kohli.

Asked if he would like to start against India at the same venue, the wicketkeeper replied: "We'll certainly try. We will have to run that by Virat, but we will get an answer from him at some stage, I'm sure.

"That’s where we like to start our summer, as has been the case for a long, long time.

"As I said, we will ask Virat and see if we can get his permission to play here – maybe even get a pink-ball Test if he's in a good mood. We will have to wait and see."

Paine added: "We like to start here against anyone. Having said that, it [the venue] doesn't win games of cricket. The reason we win games of cricket at the Gabba is because we outplay our opposition."

Australia certainly outplayed Pakistan, aided by a new-look top three all contributing big scores.

David Warner returned to form after a lean Ashes tour with 154, while opening partner Joe Burns fell narrowly short of reaching three figures, making 97 after being recalled to the top of the order.

There was also a maiden Test ton for number three Marnus Labuschagne, who was named man of the match for his 185 that helped the hosts post 580 all out in their solitary innings in the contest.

While refusing to get too carried away by the early success, Paine hopes Australia have now settled on their batting line-up in the longest format.

"We've known Burnsy is a quality opening batsman for some time, it's great to have him back in the side," he said. "He's got a great combination happening with David.

"Marnus was given some opportunities 18 months ago when some people thought he should not, but the selectors saw the talent he had, and he's taken the experience he got then from Test cricket, gone to England and got even better, come home and looks like he got better again.

"We're really happy with the top three in this game. One innings doesn't make a summer, but happy with the positive signs we saw."

Australia and Pakistan conclude the series with a day-night Test in Adelaide, which begins on Friday.

Tim Paine insists Australia have done their research in preparation for facing Pakistan's youthful pace attack in the first Test at the Gabba.

The tourists' line-up is set to include 16-year-old Test debutant Naseem Shah, as well as fellow teenagers Shaheen Afridi and Musa Khan.

Pakistan will need all three to be on their game as the visitors are huge underdogs, having not won a Test in Australia since 1995.

But captain Paine revealed a methodical approach which suggests the hosts will not be underestimating their opponents in Brisbane.

"We've prepared for all of them. That's the thing with Pakistan, they have a lot of different options, a lot of skill and, by the looks of it, a fair bit of pace," he said.

"So we've made sure we've looked at as much footage as possible of their pace attack, and their batters.

"What we don't want is to go out there at some stage and be surprised by something we see, whether that's their spinner, their quicks or their batsmen. So we've done our research."

On the subject of Naseem, who has having to deal with the recent loss of his mother, Paine was full of praise ahead of the match, which starts on Thursday. 

"He looks like a really, really exciting talent," he said.

"Pakistan have got a knack of finding these young fast bowlers so it looks like they have another one to add to that rich history of fast bowlers that they seem to produce."

Steve Smith apologised to his Australia team-mates after being fined for dissent in the Sheffield Shield as captain Tim Paine reminded the squad of their responsibilities.

Ex-skipper Smith was hit with a 25 per cent fine of his match fee for his objection to being given out caught behind when representing New South Wales against Western Australia.

It was one of two high-profile reprimands in the latest round of fixtures, with paceman James Pattinson suspended for the first Test against Pakistan for using abusive language in Victoria's clash with Queensland.

Star batsman Smith admitted he must behave in a more appropriate manner out in the middle when dismissed.

"I came in and apologised to the group for getting a code of conduct," Smith said ahead of Australia's Test series with Pakistan. 

"I don't think there was a great deal in it but I've copped it and I have to look at when I get out and the way I conduct myself. 

"I know lots of kids watch me play and watch all of us play and the way we conduct ourselves when we get out as well as when we're batting.

"We have to be very mindful of that and sometimes just bite the bullet and just conduct ourselves in, I guess, a better manner at times. 

"Sometimes your emotions can get the better of you out on the field. We're playing a game [where] everyone is trying to do their best and sometimes that happens.

"We sign up to values and in our contracts we've got a code of conduct there we have to play by. I got pinged and so be it. I felt I should apologise for that."

Paine believes the incidents are a reminder to the whole squad to act appropriately, no matter who they are representing.

"I think it's more just a reminder that we've got to set those standards all the time," he said.

"Whether we're playing for Australia or we're playing club cricket or we're playing for our states or we're not playing cricket, there are standards we set ourselves to live by day in and day out so it's important we do that whether we're on the field off the field, regardless of who we're playing for.

"We've had a couple of instances this week but we always revisit them. We did again last night, just to brush up on what's expected and what we expect of the group. 

"Both of those guys apologised, they know that they fell a little bit short of what we set ourselves in the Test team. 

"And the fact that it's important that we maintain that when we go back to state cricket and lead the way there. 

"They're disappointed with that but we are going to keep on top of it and maintain the level that we've set so far in the last couple of years."

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