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Cricket news - Harsh to judge batting group based on one session - Paine

"What happened in Perth has nothing to do with what's going to happen in Gabba" - Paine

With the much-hyped bat-off for Test spots having ended up as a farcical fiasco in Perth, all bets were off regarding the final make-up of the Australian squad for the Pakistan series. And it eventually was a man who wasn't even part of the original audition list that unexpectedly landed a role, even if potentially only a walk-on part, for the first segment of the home summer Down Under. While all else crumbled around him, Cameron Bancroft managed to not only stay afloat but also top-score with a 155-ball 49 after his team had been reduced to an embarrassing 57-9 against a raging Pakistani pace attack.

It might have won him a trip to Brisbane and Adelaide over the next two weeks, but the manner of Australia A's submission also meant that the visitors now actually believe they're in with a real chance of winning a series here. Australian captain Tim Paine though dismissed the subsequent naysaying over the overall long-form batting credentials around the country and also warned that Pakistan's decision to read a lot into the fringe batsmen's failures against the pink-ball would come at their own peril.

"To judge the whole Australian batting group on what's happened in one session in Perth is a little bit harsh. I think we've made some really good strides in hard conditions in England. We've unearthed some really good quality cricketers and then Steven Smith and David Warner, we've got some really good quality back in our side. So I saw that Pakistan are smelling blood in the water or whatever they said. What happened in Perth has nothing to do with what's going to happen in Gabba. We start from scratch," the Test captain said in Adelaide a few hours after the squad was announced in Perth. He even drew comparisons with the infamous loss that his team suffered in Headingley and hos they bounced back from Ben Stokes's freakish heroics.

"It's the same with the Headingley Test, momentum and all these words really don't matter. It's all square at the Gabba next week and we start again," he added.

At the end of the Ashes, in London, Paine had spoken about the need for batsmen around Australia to take the lead from the likes of Matthew Wade and Marcus Harris and score a lot of runs to break into the mix. But in a Sheffield Shield season where even Paine has broken his 13-year century rut, neither Joe Burns or Bancroft-both of whom made the cut against the odds-have got even close to a three-figure score. Burns sits presently on the 18th spot amongst run-getters for the season with two half-centuries in 5 innings. Bancroft, meanwhile, has had a shocker of a season having made all of 57 runs at 11.4, including two zeroes. Yet Paine didn't believe that there was an issue with not enough batsmen breaking the wall down in terms of getting selected by pure weight of runs like Wade or Harris, who incidentally does have a shield ton this season.

"I think a number of guys in this team have scored hundreds this summer in the last 2-3 games. Again we look at one innings, the pink-ball game, which they haven't played with for a long time in difficult light. It's a challenge you don't get that often and those guys haven't practiced it for more than 12 months. Couple that with some bloody good bowling and that can happen," he said.

Burns who missed out on selection for the Ashes amidst a lot of voices backing his inclusion, citing his 180 the last time he played a Test match, did receive his captain's backing though despite Paine's admission that the Queenslander hadn't quite put "huge runs on the board".

"I think it was a tough call to make for Joe to miss out on the Ashes. He's come back to Queensland and hasn't put huge runs on the board but has been pretty consistent. And obviously going back a little while when he came back into the Test side, scored a big hundred and he's shown over the years that he's a class player," he said.

Similarly with Bancroft, Paine admitted that the young opener, who's now vying for a middle-order spot, had gone through a rough patch but like with coach Justin Langer backed the right-hander to come through purely based on his temperament.

"He's come from outside the Australia A side and showed his mettle when guys were falling around him. That's what Bangers is. He's a tough competitive cricketer and it's great that we've got someone like that, a few guys like that. It's no secret Bangers had a little bit of a tough time but he's had some strange dismissals this year. But he's got a great temperament to be an excellent Test cricketer for Australia," said Paine.

He also acknowledged how co-vice-captain Travis Head had followed his diktat by getting a significant score, and that too against an attack comprising of Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon. Head, who made useful contributions in the victory at Edgbaston and the draw at Lord's, was left out of The Oval Test to make way for Mitchell Marsh. Paine had said then that the South Australian hadn't been "dropped" and he reiterated his support for Head once more here.

"It was more about team combination and balance and the way he's come back. He scored an excellent century last week against a world-class attack. I'm sure he's taken a lot of confidence from that. Trav's Test match record is outstanding for such a young cricketer. We've got full confidence in him," he said.

And on a day he let a ball pierce through a wide gap in his defences and knock off-stump off, captain Paine not only defended his seemingly faltering reserve batting resources stoically, but also made sure that Pakistan were put on notice about it.

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