Paine hopes Australia can earn victory as well as respect


For many Australians, the first ball of a home test series marks the start of a gradual winding down, when workers breathe easier in the lead up to Christmas and enjoy tuning in to watch the toil of the country’s best cricketers. For Tim Paine’s team, however, Thursday’s opening delivery of the first test against India marks the start of a long summer job to win back the hearts of a sceptical public.
Nine months on from the Cape Town ball-tampering scandal, fans will turn up to Adelaide Oval as always, some having ducked out early from their workplaces in a city that loves the sport like few others.
Many will be curious about what to expect.
Some will nurse a rare feeling of apprehension having read reports about the country’s worst ever batting line-up set to take on an Indian team with a rare surfeit of quality pacemen. Others will feel Australia are barely recognisable from their last visit, when Steve Smith’s side hammered England by 120 runs on the way to an eventual 4-0 Ashes triumph. With Smith and David Warner serving bans for ball-tampering, Paine’s team have had little to celebrate and even less inclination to indulge in chest-thumping aggression.
Defeat does little to lift the spirits, and Australia have lost a string of series across formats since the Newlands scandal.
A barrage of cultural reviews linking the team’s past belligerence with a descent into cheating has hardly helped the mood.


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