‘Behaviour doesn’t lie’ – Paine wants Australia to be judged by on-field actions

Tim Paine invoked the spirit of Winston Churchill by insisting Australia will be judged on their on-field actions ahead of the first Ashes Test against England.

A quote of “behaviour doesn’t lie” from the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom may be apocryphal but the message was clear: Australia will not allow old habits to creep in.

The ball-tampering scandal last year led to a sea change in a number of areas, and since the Cape Town incident no Australian has been in breach of the International Cricket Council’s code of conduct.

Australia’s captain is convinced the pressures of a five-Test series against England, where the tourists are likely to be given a rough ride by a fervent Edgbaston crowd as they look to defend the urn, will change nothing.

“We’re going to play competitive Test match cricket like any other nation does,” Paine said. “Our guys understand what’s expected of them. They are role models not just for Australian people but all around the world.

“There’s been a quote hanging around the changing room this week from Winston Churchill and that’s that ‘behaviour doesn’t lie’.

“Brad Haddin (Australia’s fielding coach and former wicketkeeper) brought that up with me the other day in one of the chats we had and I quite liked it.

“We can talk all we like about how we’re going to behave, ultimately you guys will see how we behave and can judge for yourselves.

David Warner, Steve Smith and Cameron Bancroft are all in the Australia squad
David Warner, Steve Smith and Cameron Bancroft (left to right) are all in the Australia squad (Jacob King/PA)

“We’ve raised that with our own team. We’ve also internally spoken about our behaviour and the way we’re going to be seen. I think it’s a great quote for us.”

Thursday could mark the first time Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft take to the field for Australia since ‘Sandpapergate’.

The trio each served lengthy suspensions for their roles in an attempt to doctor the ball against South Africa, and Smith and Warner have both been barracked on these shores during the World Cup.

It is anticipated England’s supporters will up the ante this week, something Paine and Australia are prepared for in a series that will mark the start of the inaugural World Test Championship.

“It’s got the potential to unsettle anyone. They’re human beings, they’ve got feelings, they’re no different to anyone else,” Paine said.

  • Steve Smith - one-year ban
  • David Warner - one-year ban
  • Cameron Bancroft - nine-month ban

“We spoke about the fact we think it’s going to go up a notch and traditionally if you speak about what might happen, when it does you’ve got a plan in place to handle it and that’s what we’ve done.”

Smith and Warner are set for their Test returns, playing for the first time under Paine, who admitted he has sought their wisdom in the last couple of weeks.

“It’s no different from any other game of cricket. The more experienced players you have on your team generally, the more it’s going to help,” Paine said.

“We’re in a really lucky situation. We’ve got two world-class batsmen, two guys who have played a lot of cricket, a lot of cricket in England, a lot of big Test matches. For us not to tap into their knowledge would be silly.”

The teams have contrasting fortunes at the Birmingham venue, England have won their last 11 fixtures in all formats while Australia’s last victory here in any match was in 2001.

England celebrate victory over Australia at Edgbaston in 2005
England celebrate victory over Australia at Edgbaston in 2005 (Nick Potts/PA)

However, Paine is adamant the ground holds no fear for Australia. When asked if there is a more intimidating stadium in world cricket, Paine responded: “Than this? I could name you 15.”

As for whether he has settled on his XI, he added: “Yes, I have. But I don’t get the final say so we’ll have a team put out at the toss.”

The 34-year-old’s own place in the side would be the subject of speculation were he not skipper, with fellow gloveman Alex Carey surprisingly left out of the squad despite an encouraging World Cup campaign.

Asked whether he feels the need to justify his place, Paine responded: “No, not at all. I’m 34 years old, I don’t really care about my place in the side anymore.

“I’m here to do a job. I’ve been put in this team to captain and keep wicket to the best of my ability. That’s all I can do. At 34 years of age if you’re looking further ahead than the next Test match you’re kidding yourself.

“I realise how lucky I am – the position I’ve come from and the position I’m now in.”

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