Australia will need a collective effort by their batsmen to fill the void left by the in-form Steve Smith who will miss the third Ashes Test against England, skipper Tim Paine said yesterday.
Smith was ruled out of the encounter at Headingley, starting today, due to the effects of a concussion after being hit on the head by a bouncer from England fast bowler Jofra Archer in the first innings of the drawn second Test at Lord’s.
The former skipper, who smashed 92 at Lord’s, has been in superb form making 144 and 142 in the opening Test at Edgbaston to help Australia seal a 251-run victory for a 1-0 lead in the five-match series.
Asked how Australia planned to replace Smith in the third Test, Paine told reporters: “We do it as a team.”
Concussion substitute Marnus Labuschagne filled in for Smith in the second innings and made a gritty 59 but Paine said it was up to all senior batsmen to ensure the pressure is not entirely on the 25-year-old.
“There aren’t too many guys... that have averaged higher than Steve in Test cricket. Clearly they are huge shoes to fill and we don’t put all that pressure on Marnus,” Paine said.
“Marnus comes in to play a role in our team and it’s up to everyone else, particularly our senior players, to make sure we give that little bit more output and cover Steve.”
Paine said Australia expected more of the same fiery bowling from Barbados-born fast bowler Archer in the third Test.
“We copped some short pitch bowling. The guys have got plans and we’ve prepared really well for it. It’s now about going out and executing,” Paine added.
“When someone’s bowling fast and the crowd’s up and about it’s exciting. It’s great for Test cricket, the interest it’s sparked in the last... 10 days is great. We’re looking forward to the challenge again this week.”
Paine plays down Archer fear factor
Australian captain said the tourists will not be intimidated by Archer and has backed misfiring batsman David Warner to hit form in the third Ashes Test.
Paine was full of praise for Archer, but said Australia’s batsmen were used to facing pace and had a few useful speedsters of their own.
“It’s fantastic to see a young cricketer with so much talent come onto the scene and it was a bit of a buzz to face him at Lord’s,” Paine wrote in a column for the Australian newspaper.
“He’s fast for sure, but in Australia we’ve been brought up facing guys of his pace.
“Every time we have a net (session) we have Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and James Pattinson coming at us like we are the opposition.”
He was unconcerned about Warner’s lack of form, which has seen the left-hander score only 18 runs in four innings.
“David Warner hasn’t hit his straps yet and I notice people getting a bit trigger happy on that subject, but I am not worried,” he wrote.
“We are 1-0 up in the series and he hasn’t got out of the blocks. He is a match winner... he is also the most mentally tough cricketer I know. He is due a score and that is a dividend I am looking forward to.”
It did, it did not
Meanwhile, former Australia paceman Andy Bichel has labelled England captain Joe Root a “blatant cheat” over a disputed catch on the final day of the second Test.
Root took a low catch to end Labuschagne’s innings, with replays suggesting the ball may have bounced first, although the England skipper later insisted it had carried.
“It didn’t carry. We can see that,” Bichel told Macquarie Sports Radio.
“It’s ricocheted off the player as well so it’s bobbled a little bit to him, so therefore he’d know if he’s picked it up on the half volley — it’s blatant cheating.”
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