Tinkering With Small Things In Order To Be Well Prepared To What Point I Can Be Out Of The Ashes: Tim Paine > Cricket News, cricinfo, mobilecric, cricbuzz, livescore and more
Cricket news - Tinkering little things to be as well-prepared as I can be for Ashes: Tim Paine
The last 12 months have been like a roller-coaster ride for Tim Paine. After the ball-tampering saga in Cape Town, he was the chosen one to lead Australia's Mission Resurrection. And that, now, brings along the daunting challenge of an away Ashes tour right after the 2019 World Cup.
Cricbuzz caught up with the Australia Test captain after he featured in Tasmania's win against South Australia at the Adelaide Oval. He spoke about the surreal last few months that he and his team have experienced since the fiasco in South Africa, the impending returns of Steve Smith and David Warner, and his unbridled focus on the Ashes as player and captain.
So much has happened in your life and your cricket over the last 12 months. Have you even got time to sit back and let it all sink in?
I have a little bit. The main thing for me is, yeah lot's changed but I've tried to stay exactly the same and I've just tried to enjoy it to be honest. I know that I haven't got 10 years of international cricket ahead of me, so it's important for me that I just enjoy what I'm doing at the moment. That's the real focus of mine, is just to be myself. I've realized now that I'm in a really privileged position, and one that I certainly wasn't expecting to be in, but these things happen and you have to sort of roll with it. I'm excited about the position I'm in and what's coming up in the next six to twelve months.
Based on what has transpired since, is Cape Town almost a blur to you now?
Yeah, I don't want to go over it too much. I haven't thought about it a lot. It was disappointing for all of us involved. I think you've got to keep looking forward. You can't keep worrying about the past. We've made a commitment to ourselves as a group, and as a team, that we want to get better and we don't want to do things like that ever again. We want to play good cricket that our supporters and our country can be proud of. We are all about looking forward. We are really looking forward to get those guys (Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft) back in around our team, and I think when that happens, we can completely sort of start to move forward. There's always been that sort of in the background, where we're trying to move forward but we know that these guys are going to be back at some stage. So it'll be great when they actually are back, and we can all look into the future.
Has all this talk about their impending return kind of been an irritant in the back of the mind, say even when you pick players and put them into certain positions within the team?
Not for the group. I think when you get the team together, you are then focused on the Test match that you're playing. I think it's been more a distraction in terms of the media always asking about it and people wanting to know what's going on. And a lot of the time, the players haven't got those answers. It's been at times frustrating to have it continually brought up. But at the same time, it happened and we realize that it's going to be brought up and it's probably going to be brought up a lot more in England, from fans, from media, and then having those guys back. That's something that we know is coming and something that you have to deal with as a group, and as a professional cricketer.
But that morning of the Johannesburg Test when you walked out as Test captain, in whatever circumstances you got there, would have felt surreal?
Yeah it was surreal. But I wouldn't say I enjoyed it. I'd say I'm starting to now enjoy it. Now we're getting back to some normality. But certainly at the start, it wasn't a nice feeling for anyone to be there, playing in those circumstances. As I said, you have to dust yourself off and move forward, and that's what we are trying to do.
You spoke about Smith and Warner coming back, and there's been so much talk about how they should be reintegrated. How do you plan to do that within the dressing room as the Test captain?
Yeah, there are always things going on. For me, once things have been done from an organisation point of view, which needs to be done. There needs to be some process around what's happening but for me as their captain and a teammate, once they walk back into that room, nothing's changed for me. They're just another player playing cricket for Australia and I'm excited to have them all back to be honest.
Does it almost feel like you've had two different careers, if you look at your first foray in 2010 and then the comeback you made for the Ashes in late 2017?
Hmm, I suppose yeah there is. I've had two different cracks at being an international cricketer, albeit I think the first one I was only ever a back-up. I sort of came in when Hadds (Brad Haddin) was injured or needed a rest. So I didn't completely feel a 100 per cent part of it all the time. Whereas since I've come back, I've been the first-choice wicket-keeper and there's certainly a different feel about that. And again that's something I've actually really enjoyed.
But do you think the time away made you more sorted for once you were back?
Not that I think I needed it. But it certainly makes you appreciate it a bit more, and like I said, I'm trying to enjoy it for what it is, and make the most of everyday. For, this sort of opportunity doesn't come up all the time, and it certainly doesn't last for a long time. That's the main thing, to try and enjoy it whilst I can. I am not getting any younger.
You spoke about how you've been thinking about the Ashes for almost a year now. What about the Ashes have you been thinking about?
All the time I'm batting in the nets now, whether that's good or bad I'm not sure, I'm thinking about batting over there (in England). You know the improvements I want to make to my game are for when I get there. This is obviously the biggest series I'll ever be involved in, and I think I'll clearly get only one chance to play an international series in England. That's a dream come true for me as a kid growing up, watching it on telly, and realizing how big it is over there, and how hard it is to win, and being a part of a series like that is the pinnacle for me. I want to make sure I'm at my absolute best when I get over there.
Speaking of which, you had a really long net before this game against South Australia, and you were getting really angry with yourself on occasions. Are you being too hard on you at times?
No, I'm just trying to get better. Like I said, I know where I need to improve and I'm trying to improve now for then. I'm not trying to improve for the next innings I play in shield cricket, although it's really important that I play my role for Tassie, and do my job. But I'm tinkering with little things at the moment to make sure that when I get to England to face their attack, I'm in as good a position as I can be.
There's so much talk about you not having scored a first-class ton since 2006-07. Does all that talk ever get to you?
No it doesn't because they were pretty clear when I was picked, that I was picked because I was the best wicket-keeper in Australia, and the job they want me to do is eke out as many runs as I can with the tail. Since I've been back, I've contributed reasonably well. I've been pretty consistent without getting big scores, and obviously that's something for me I would personally like to change. I'd like to score some big runs, and some important runs in a big game. I've certainly gained some belief in the last sort of 12 months that I'm good enough at Test level and it's now about fine-tuning a few things and being ready for this Ashes series.
You're not a selector but how much of that 'A' series do you think could play in the Ashes selection, and is there a possibility for some horses for courses selections like say a Jackson Bird, who took seven wickets today ...
I think so. From what I'm hearing, this year the Ashes squad won't be named till a lot later. So that tells you that the Australia A tour is really important for a number of people. I think your majority of the squad, you probably know. Most people would pick sort of 10 or 12 of the same. But when you are looking at 15 or 17 players, you can't fit 10 or 11 into that last 6-7 spots. The nucleus of the squad is obviously there. You've got obviously Steve Smith and Warner hopefully back around and then there's the shield cricketers who've done really well this year and will be in England, which is a great thing for our team. We are starting to get more depth. (Cameron) Bancroft as well scored a lot of runs in his first game back. Marcus Harris has got a 100 and something not out and 90 in the first innings. Kurtis Patterson has scored another hundred, Travis Head is scoring consistent runs and Matthew Wade is scoring consistent runs. Suddenly you've got a backlog of batters, and 12 months ago, we thought the cupboard was pretty bare.
And about Wade, you two go back a long way, from the loser in your cricket battles as kids having to buy fish and chips for the other to being rivals vying for the same spot to now standing side by side behind the stumps, with you as Test captain. How has that relationship progressed?
Not much has changed to be honest. We've always been competitive when we've played against each other but as soon as we've been in the same teams or the same squads, we've always got along really well, had a good laugh and we've both got pretty big mouths, so we take the mickey out of a lot of our teammates, and that's never really changed. When we are in opposition teams, you want to win and you want to do well. Things can be competitive at times but we've got a good relationship and are enjoying playing together now.
Does this tag of being Mr Nice Guy sit well with you, especially with all this talk about cultural reviews in Australian cricket?
I am not too fussed to be honest. I think if you'd asked people in shield cricket 5-6 years ago if I was a 'nice guy', you probably would have got different reviews. But I think it's important as I've said in the press to be respectful of the game and the opposition. But at the same time, if something needs to be said or if I feel like the time is right for me to impose myself in that kind of way on the game, like we saw in Perth (his verbal banter with Virat Kohli during the second Test), I'm more than happy to do it. But I'm certainly not going to go out there and start doing it for no reason, but I like to just focus on my team and my teammates and get the best out of them and when the time dictates it, you have to do it.
You were vice-captain of the T20I team within a few months of making your debut and there was talk about you being a potential future captain, and then when you see yourself leading in Tests now, does it almost feel like things worked out eventually in a strange way?
No I don't think I ever expected to be the Australian Test captain. I certainly wanted to play a lot of Test cricket at that stage and obviously I had an injury that set me back not just two years of cricket but I had some pretty severe sort of mental scars from what happened that took me a long time to get over. It's hard to explain but it's just sort of how it was. I missed two years of cricket but mentally I was a fair way off the pace for probably 3-4 years. From then to now, I'm rapped to be where I am and probably didn't think I'll ever get back there. Now that I am, I'm enjoying it and not putting too much pressure on myself. Obviously, I want to win every Test and be part of successful teams, and I try my best every time I'm on the field. But I'm much better at dealing with things that don't go your way and 50 per cent of the time in cricket they don't. I've just been around the block a bit and had a bit more life experience, and I'm just better equipped for where I am.
I'm just looking at being as well-prepared as I can possibly be for the Ashes, and I haven't looked one second past that because I want to make sure that myself and our whole group are cherry ripe for that series.
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