MELBOURNE, (Reuters) – The Australian team do not need to make wholesale changes to their cricket culture as a few tweaks should once again endear them to home fans, according to test captain Tim Paine.
Australia were rocked by a ball-tampering scandal in South Africa last month in which former captain Steve Smith, his deputy David Warner and batsman Cameron Bancroft were sent home after the third test in Cape Town and slapped with hefty bans.
Paine was named to lead the side after both Smith and Warner stepped down from their leadership roles with the wicketkeeper taking over for the remainder of the Newlands test and then the fourth in Johannesburg. South Africa won the series 3-1.
The players faced an enormous backlash from a cricket-loving Australian public following the scandal, partly fuelled by their unhappiness with a team who felt they could act with impunity.
Cricket Australia (CA) has announced it will draw up a ‘charter’ to set out standards of behaviour and expectations of Australian men’s teams. Paine, 33, believes there was not much wrong with the culture and it was never questioned during Australia’s home triumph over England in the preceding series.
“Obviously, we’ve had this incident which has brought everything to a head,” Paine told reporters in Hobart on Thursday. “But during the Ashes, there wasn’t a lot said about our culture. “Looking back, it’s just a few little things that we can tweak and do a little bit better as a team. If we do that, I think the Australian public will jump back on board pretty quickly.”
The fallout from the saga has been significant with Smith and Warner handed one-year bans, while Bancroft has been withdrawn from cricket for nine months.
Coach Darren Lehmann also resigned and all three players made emotional apologies upon their return to Australia and have since accepted their sanctions and loss of leadership roles.
However, ball tampering was not the only issue for a team that had five players sanctioned during a tempestuous series, with the side since vowing to change their behaviour.
Former test batsman Rick McCosker will lead a panel of two current and two former players in drawing up the charter, which is expected to address issues such as the sledging of opponents as well as outright cheating.
“In the last couple of years, at times as a team, we’ve probably been a touch too emotional and got carried away,” Paine added. “There’s always a time and a place to talk to your opposition.
“But what’s said and how it’s said will be very different going forward.”
Paine said he would continue to seek guidance from Smith.
“He (Smith) is someone that I’ll certainly be speaking to quite closely about how we go about it and keeping him in the loop,” Paine said.
“We started to have these discussions a few months ago and Steve was keen for the team to start playing a different style.
“And for me, it’s about carrying that on.”