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Cricket news - Paine 'cannot wait' to realise Ashes dream

Paine is hopeful of Smith and Warner playing a huge part in the Ashes this year.

Despite featuring in the Ashes at home in late 2017 after a seven year Test absence, Tim Paine, by his own admission, has always dreamed of playing the historic series on English shores. Six months from now, Paine will not only get to play in an Ashes series for the first time in England at the age of 34, he will also be leading his side, something that he wouldn't have envisaged 12 months ago.

Having seen his side demolish Sri Lanka in the two-match Test series, the skipper is brimming with confidence and is already looking forward to what will be Australia's most important assignment this year. "About six months ago ... I've been dreaming about it actually," Paine said following the win over Sri Lanka in the second Test. "I'm happy now that we've got this out of the way, I can put everything into it because every Australian cricketer can't wait to go and play an Ashes series and particularly in England.

"It's something that I've certainly dreamed of as a kid. I didn't think I'd be going over as the captain, but in the back of my mind I've been thinking about it, I've been watching England, keeping a really close eye on them, I can't wait to get over there."

For now, Paine is focusing on getting some much-needed rest following a hectic summer that saw him play six Tests. He is unlikely to join Hobart Hurricanes for the semifinals and will instead turn out for Tasmania in the Sheffield Shield and in all probability, the veteran will be a part of the A squad that will be playing a couple of four-day games in England before the marquee series. "I've been a bit unwell in the last couple of Test matches so it will be nice to have a bit of a rest," Paine said.

"Certainly, going forward, the Shield games with the Dukes ball and then the opportunity to join the 'A' tour and get some four-day cricket over in England is something I'd certainly like to do and I will be discussing with whoever I need to."

After losing the Test series to India, the onus was on the home side to get some confidence back against the visiting Sri Lankans. Their bowling attack was in top gear, helping the side win the first Test by an innings and 40 runs and the second by a whopping margin of 366 runs. While Pat Cummins picked up ten wickets in the first Test, Mitchell Starc replicated the feat in the second. "I think the differences between the two series were that our ability to bowl as a group against India wasn't quite there at times. Whether that's because Virat (Kohli) and (Cheteshwar) Pujara were more patient than us and forced our bowlers out of their plans, but I thought we turned it around in this series with a real focus on bowling for each other and playing cricket as a team.

"Obviously you need individual performances to win moments, but overall the stronger our team can be and the more that we play for each other - this series, or Sri Lanka and the way that we played in these last two Test matches - I think we can beat anyone in the world. The focus was on us playing as a team, so we've got to keep driving that home."

Paine reserved praise for Cummins in particular and feels the 25-year-old is now among the best in the world. "The difference with Pat and those guys is he doesn't take the new ball," Paine pointed out. "So he bowls at times when the ball's not doing as much and the wicket's a bit flatter. I think his ability to get it done in all conditions - whether it's moving around or not - is second to none. I felt as the summer went on he got better and better the more he bowled, it felt quicker and more accurate. He'd be the fastest Australian bowler to 90 wickets. That probably says he's right up there."

Paine is also hopeful of the banned senior duo of Steve Smith and David Warner making a successful return to the Test side in England. Both Smith and Warner are also expected to feature in the World Cup prior to the Ashes. "I think everyone has to a degree got to earn their stripes," Paine noted. "I think those two have plenty of runs in the bank. I see us going to the Ashes and them having a huge part in us winning the series. That's how I see how important they are to this team. We know how good they are. Hopefully once their bans are up they'll be welcomed back and they'll win Test matches like they did before."

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