Sydney – Australia will be as fired up as ever against India despite their new vow to play with a smile, captain Tim Paine said Sunday, while warning his pace attack not to get “too emotional”.
The teams meet in the first of four Tests at Adelaide from Thursday in the wake of a scathing review into the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa which criticised Australian cricketers for “playing the mongrel” against opponents.
In response, the team produced a so-called Players’ Pact, urging Australians to “compete with us, smile with us, fight with us, dream with us”.
Paine has also pledged to shake opponents’ hands before each match as a mark of respect in a bid to change the culture within the side.
The move to tone down their infamous abrasive attitude was criticised by former skipper Michael Clarke last week, but Paine insisted Sunday the aggression would still be on show.
“It’s been received well, I haven’t heard otherwise,” he told cricket.com.au of the handshake idea. “I just think it’s a bit of a no brainer, just a show of sportsmanship.
“It doesn’t mean we’ll be the nicest team in the world to play against by any stretch of the imagination.
“We’ll still be really competitive and fired up out on the ground, but I think you do need to have that bit of respect between the two sides.”
The Australians will be coming face-to-face with famously combative Indian skipper Virat Kohli, who thrives on the verbal banter and has never been shy of riling the opposition.
Paine concedes his pace attack of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins can get hot under the collar in the heat of competition, and urged them to not rise to any bait.
“I think our fast bowling attack… if they play purely on skill, they’re going to trouble him,” Paine said of Kohli, who has scored five centuries in his two previous Test tours of Australia.
“At times when we get too emotional, we can lose our way a little bit. So it’s a really fine line.
“There’s going to be times when they’re going to get a bit fiery, I’m sure. But we need to be mindful of keeping ourselves calm enough so we can execute our skills as well.”
Despite his warnings, Paine said he was as keen as anyone for the team to play to their strengths, and if that meant some sledging to give them an edge then so be it.
“It’s just about picking your time and picking your moment and doing what the team requires,” he said.
“I think it’s important that guys play the way that suits them. If you’re someone who likes to get into a contest one-on-one with someone like Virat, then go for your life.
“But I don’t think it needs to be over the top and I don’t think guys who aren’t normally like that need to start doing it.”