Adelaide: Australia skipper Tim Paine says he is sick of all the ball-tampering talk and it is time to move on and focus on halting powerhouse India from winning their first Test series Down Under.
The scandal in March has haunted Australian cricket, with Steve Smith and David Warner banned and a swathe of executives from the governing body axed or falling on their swords in the aftermath.
With the world’s number one Test nation awaiting them in Adelaide in the first of four Tests from Thursday, Paine said it was time to start looking forward.
“There has been so much talk in the last 10 months that everyone is sick of it,” he said ahead of Australia’s first home Test since “sandpapergate”, where Smith, Warner and Cameron Bancroft tried to alter the ball in South Africa.
“There has been so much talk, it’s time for action. There are 11 guys going out and trying their best who will be so keen because of what has gone on.”
The odds are stacked in favour of the tourists — they top the Test rankings and boast the world’s best batsman in Virat Kohli, plus a high-class pace bowling attack.
Throw in Australia being without Smith and Warner, and it points to India starting as overwhelming favourites.
The last time they met, India won an engrossing series 2-1 on home soil, with Smith hitting three centuries. But the Indians have never won a Test series in Australia and if pace bowlers Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins are firing the tourists could be in for another tough time.
Paine said his message to the team was to keep their cool but also play to their strengths. And if that meant some verbal banter, then so be it.
“It’s just about picking your time and picking your moment and doing what the team requires,” he said.
Australia could give a debut to in-form opener Marcus Harris, likely to partner Aaron Finch at the top of the order with Usman Khawaja appearing to be sufficiently recovered from knee surgery to come in at number three.