SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia’s other batsmen must offer more support to Steve Smith during the two-test series against Pakistan than they did in England earlier this year, captain Tim Paine said in Brisbane on Wednesday on the eve of the first test.
Former captain Smith tops the test batting world rankings after scoring 774 runs at average of 110 as Australia retained the Ashes in England but most of his fellow batsman had more patchy campaigns.
“It’s no secret that during the Ashes we relied too heavily on Steve so the rest of our top seven are really keen to score a lot of runs,” Paine told reporters at the Gabba.
“Traditionally, we love batting in Australia … so our batters are really keen to get out there. Our country has had a lot of success on this ground. It’s a great ground to bat on if you can get in and spend a lot of time out there.”
Coach Justin Langer suggested on Tuesday that Joe Burns would open the batting with David Warner while Mitchell Starc would be the third pace bowler, meaning batsman Cameron Bancroft and Michael Neser would be the squad members to miss out.
Warner’s form, in contrast to that of Smith, has been nothing to write home about in test matches since the pair returned from one-year bans for their roles in the 2018 ball-tampering scandal.
Warner managed only 95 runs in 10 innings over the Ashes series but Paine said he was confident the pugnacious opener would rediscover his best form back on home soil.
“Davy’s certainly one of those guys who’s really keen to get among the runs,” Paine added.
“Just watching him the last few days in the nets, he looks as good as I’ve seen him in a long time, which is a great sign for us.”
Australia will be strong favourites to win a series which concludes with a day-night test in Adelaide but Paine said the introduction of the Test Championship meant there was no room for a slip-up.
The Championship sees the top nine test nations facing each other over a two-year period, scoring points based on their success and culminating in a final at Lord’s in June 2021.
“We want to win the Test Championship so to do that you have to win most test series and you have to win most test matches,” he said.
“Every test match now is so important so this series is really important for us.”
Australia last lost a test at the Gabba in 1988 but Paine said that would make no difference to the approach of his team.
“It means nothing, when we go out we still have to play well and we still have to execute against the team we’re coming up against,” he said.
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)