Australian cricket is anxiously waiting on the return of David Warner (left) and Steve Smith from suspension.
Australian cricket is anxiously waiting on the return of David Warner (left) and Steve Smith from suspension.

Paine: Why Warner and Smith return will be invaluable

A LOT of people billed us as world beaters after we won in Perth and now we're chumps again.

The reaction from outside the team pumped up an expectation that we'd made major improvements after just one win in the second Test, but in actual fact, we hadn't come that far.

We're not happy with the way things slipped a little at the MCG, but the reality of our situation at the moment is we have three guys in the top six who have played less than 10 Tests.

I believe we are getting better as a group, but every now and then it's going to look like we've taken two steps back.

Ricky Ponting came into Test cricket as a No. 6 batsman and had Mark Taylor, Steve Waugh, Mark Waugh to learn off.

When I played with Ricky early in my career, I walked taller purely due to his presence in the dressing room.

When you're batting with players like that, you can feel a bit more confident seeing them standing up to pressure and it makes young guys puff their chests out and believe.

 

You're seeing first-hand world-class players who not only talk the talk but walk the walk.

Out in the middle, in the nets, in the change rooms - you are learning so much.

Australian captain Tim Paine at training at the SCG on Tuesday ahead of the fourth Test against India. Picture. Phil Hillyard
Australian captain Tim Paine at training at the SCG on Tuesday ahead of the fourth Test against India. Picture. Phil Hillyard

In three months' time, Steve Smith and David Warner will have served their bans and we will have available two world-class batsmen who might be able to help other guys walk taller.

Usman Khawaja and Shaun Marsh are two excellent experienced players who offer our group so much as it is, but the prospect of Smith and Warner returning could potentially boost the confidence of other players even further.

This Australian team is going to have good games and we're going to have bad games, but hopefully when guys like Travis Head are getting 10, 12 or 15 Tests into their careers we will see the benefit of the valuable lessons learnt in these more difficult times.

We have a great group of guys in this squad who have been identified as long term Test players and after what's happened in the past 12 months, we have the opportunity to put eight valuable games into them that otherwise, they might not have got.

It's hard to see now, but that is the silver lining.

Australian batsman Travis Head after being dismissed by India during the Boxing Day Test. Picture: AAP
Australian batsman Travis Head after being dismissed by India during the Boxing Day Test. Picture: AAP

Blokes were shattered in Melbourne and it's hard to watch knowing how much work they put in and how much it means to them. They so desperately want to do well and it can be a suffocating feeling.

Even in Abu Dhabi against Pakistan when we got knocked over you think, 'geez, it's the end of the world.'

But when you put it in perspective you realise this is where we're at. This is where we're going, and these are the guys who we need to get experience into.

We just need to keep trying to create an environment where players can get better and we stick together.

All that matters to our team is what happens within our four walls.

Maybe in two years' time, Travis Head and Marcus Harris are your Matt Hayden's and Justin Langer's, all because of the experience they've gained these past nine months.

News Corp Australia


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