The Australian team celebrate victory and the support of the crowd. Picture: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images
The Australian team celebrate victory and the support of the crowd. Picture: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

Paine’s response: ’We aren’t here to win the first Test’

AUSTRALIA is now a "dangerous" team with the best since Sir Donald Bradman, Steve Smith, making runs and Nathan Lyon taking wickets according to Test captain Tim Paine.

But after the Edgbaston demolition of England a lid was firmly thrust on the excitement of the drought-breaking victory because it was just one part of a five-step Ashes winning plan.

The Australia dressing room was still rocking hours after the final day rout which produced a first victory at Edgbaston in 18 years.

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Paine couldn't escape the impact of Smith, who he said was "probably the best Test batsman we have ever seen" after his twin centuries earned man-of-the match honours and universal praise.

But amid the basking in Smith's greatness, and the euphoria of the win, Paine knows the job is far from done.

He's all too aware Australia haven't won a full series in England in that same 18-year time span and, while celebrating the Birmingham belting, Paine said that message has been rammed home.

"You've got to keep a lid on it. There's still four Tests to go and we aren't here to win the first Test at Edgbaston - we're here to win the Ashes," Paine said.

"We've been really clear on that for some time. We're obviously happy to win the first Test. It's a huge step in the right direction, but we're certainly not satisfied with that.

Australia's David Warner celebrates with his children after Australia beat England by 251 runs Picture: Mike Egerton/PA via AP
Australia's David Warner celebrates with his children after Australia beat England by 251 runs Picture: Mike Egerton/PA via AP

"Tonight will be quite a different feel to most Test wins we've had. We're over here to do something that a lot of teams from Australia have struggled to do. And we realise that if we can do it it will be spoken about for a hell of a long time, and that's what is driving us.

"To come in England in these conditions is difficult for us as it is for England to go to Australia. There's a big five weeks ahead of us."

After taking over the captaincy in difficult circumstances following the sandpaper scandal, Paine has endured several different incarnations of the Test team.

Another six changes were made from the last side he captain against Sri Lanka in February coming in to his first Ashes stoush as skipper.

But two inclusions were David Warner and Smith, with the latter's 286 runs in the game something Paine has never enjoyed.

Combined with Lyon's nine-wicket haul, Paine was confident Australia once again had the manpower that could win not just in England, but anywhere,

"I think Steve Smith was unbelievable - there's no doubt about that. He's the best player in the world in Test cricket at the moment. He's probably the best ever statistically, and while he's at the crease I think our team's got real confidence

"While Steve's scoring runs and Nathan's taking wickets, we're a pretty dangerous cricket team," Paine said.

"And as I think you saw, the rest of us will grow with confidence the better those guys are going.

"Add to that Pat Cummins and Matthew Wade's performances this game and we're really proud and happy about the way we went about this whole Test match."

Meanwhile, Paine says he would be "foolish" not to listen to former leaders Smith and David Warner and any suggestion to the contrary was just plain wrong.

Both Smith, the former captain and Warner, the former vice-captain, are banned from leadership roles as part of their punishment for the ball-tampering scandal.

Steve Smith's double tons provided the inspiration behind the success.
Steve Smith's double tons provided the inspiration behind the success.

There were suggestions that Smith, who could be captain again as soon as March next year, seemed to be doing more than a mere fielder during the opening Test, and that Paine was potentially being undermined.

But that was quickly shot down by Paine who, with just 23 Tests to his name, said the wealth of experience he was surrounded with, not just Smith and Warner, were all crucial ingredients to any Australian success.

"Both of those guys in particular have played a lot more cricket in England than I have. They've played a lot more big tournaments and big series and big Tests than I have, and the same goes for all of our team," Paine said.

"They're not only helping me with the way they lead our group, they're also helping … the things that Marnus Labuschagne, Mitch Marsh and Travis Head are learning from Steve Smith and David Warner in our change room is stuff that cannot be taught.

"We're all tapping into them whether we're the captain, the coach, the batting coach or bowling coach. They've got things they've learned through experience that other people don't have or don't know.

"Like I said before, we'd be foolish not to tap into that. They've still got a huge presence in our dressing room, there's no denying that."

After his second innings hundred Smith said taking up the captaincy again was "not on my radar", but he wouldn't be deterred from giving input as required.

 

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