Australia captain Tim Paine said his players had been heeding the words of former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill over their behaviour ahead of the Ashes series with England.
Paine, speaking ahead of the first Test at Edgbaston, said that the quote ‘behaviour doesn’t lie’ has been spread round the Australian dressing room in the build-up to the game.
It comes with the three players involved in the controversial ball tampering episode which rocked the game – David Warner, Steve Smith and Cameron Bancroft – all expected to play in the first Test starting on Thursday.
Former Australia captain Steve Waugh has reflected on the return of ball-tampering trio Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft to the side on Monday ahead of the first Ashes Test against England.
Waugh has been embedded in Australia’s camp as a mentor in the lead-up to the first Test at Edgbaston on Thursday and labelled the trio world-class players, and claims they’ll be excited having not played a Test in nearly a year-and-a-half.
The 54-year-old, the last Australia captain to win an away Ashes series in 2001, will remain with Justin Langer and his players until the end of the second Test at Lord’s next month.
“You know, out of the game for… haven’t played a test match for 16 months those guys. That’s a big wait,” said Waugh.
“But they’re world class players. The thing I know about Steve Smith is, he always finds a way. If someone is going to write him off or say he’s not what he used to be, then they do that at their peril.
“The other players are very grateful they are back in the side and looking forward to playing with them. So, there will be some nerves.”
Australia great Steve Waugh has promised the current crop of Baggy Greens will be no “shrinking violets” in the Ashes.
Much has been made of the overhaul of team culture that took place following the ill-tempered tour of South Africa that contained several unsavoury moments and culminated in the ball-tampering scandal.
Self-confessed ‘hippy’ Justin Langer replaced Darren Lehmann as head coach but the three players banned for conspiring to rough the ball up with sandpaper – Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft – have all been picked to face England at the first possible opportunity.
Waugh was renowned as a hard-bitten skipper in his own day, though he disowns the notion that he coined the famous phrase ‘mental disintegration’ to describe the psychological battle with opponents.
He is travelling with the touring squad as a team mentor – his first formal involvement with the national side in 15 years – and while he expects them to toe the line, he is not anticipating things to get too soft in the middle.
“There aren’t going to be any shrinking violets out there, they are going to be combative and it’s an Ashes series so expect them to play in a positive frame of mind with strong body language,” he said.
“A lot of people said we were ruthless (in the past) but the definition of being ruthless is fulfilling your potential and playing to the best you can possibly play – that’s what I wanted my team to do and if they said that was ruthless that was fine by me.
“We are brought up to play in a positive aggressive manner and I don’t see that being any different in this series.
“This side is going to be combative because that is the Australian way – they know they can’t cross over the line obviously. What happened 12-18 months ago has had a huge impact, but these guys have played in a fantastic spirit since then.
“Tim Paine (captain) and Langer have got that under control, they are seasoned campaigners and they’ve got their antennas up to what is going on. They know how to play in the right spirit.”