New Aussie team takes big step up

Daily Dispatch - - Sport -

Aus­tralia’s bat­tling draw against Pak­istan has ush­ered in a new era for a team des­per­ate to re­deem it­self in the wake of the sand­pa­per cheat­ing scan­dal, me­dia said Fri­day.

In their first Test out­ing since the ball-tam­per­ing fi­asco in South Africa, the Aus­tralians sal­vaged a draw in the open­ing Test in Dubai thanks to a dogged 141 from bats­man Us­man Khawaja.

While such a re­sult would not nor­mally be cause for cel­e­bra­tion, ABC colum­nist Richard Hinds praised the way Aus­tralia re­fused to con­cede de­feat when fac­ing a seem­ingly im­pos­si­ble task.

He said it was a promis­ing start for the Test team un­der new coach Justin Langer, the former bats­man who took over af­ter pre­de­ces­sor Dar­ren Lehmann quit in dis­grace.

“No one knows more about the value of per­se­ver­ance and prepa­ra­tion than Langer, given his won­der­ful ca­reer was a tri­umph of al­most tor­tur­ous ded­i­ca­tion and bloody de­fi­ance,” Hinds wrote.

A com­mon theme in re­ports was the con­trast be­tween the hard work­ing team Langer has forged with new cap­tain Tim Paine and the pos­tur­ing ar­ro­gance of the side in­volved in the ball­tam­per­ing af­fair ear­lier this year.

The scan­dal erupted when bats­man Cameron Ban­croft was caught try­ing to al­ter the ball us­ing sand­pa­per in the third Test at New­lands in South Africa.

Ban­croft, former cap­tain Steve Smith and his deputy David Warner were all sent home and handed lengthy bans, with Lehmann and Cricket Aus­tralia chief James Sutherland even­tu­ally re­sign­ing amid a huge pub­lic back­lash.

ESPNCricinfo’s Aus­tralian writer Daniel Bret­tig said the re­sult against Pak­istan “picked up a pre­vi­ously for­lorn team off the New­lands killing floor”.

The AAP do­mes­tic news agency said there were plenty of pos­i­tives for Langer and Paine.

“The de­pleted Aus­tralian squad was ex­pected to strug­gle in the UAE but Paine could hardly have asked for a more spir­ited dis­play to be­gin his new era in charge,” it said.

Writ­ing in The Aus­tralian, sports re­porter Ben Horne praised Khawaja, who made 141 off 302 balls on a de­te­ri­o­rat­ing pitch to post the sec­ond-long­est knock in a fi­nal in­nings in Test his­tory.

He said the de­fi­ant per­for­mance for­ever dis­pelled per­cep­tions that Khawaja was a lazy player, say­ing he “sud­denly mor­phed into an instant team leader”.

“In the mo­ment of reck­on­ing in the first se­ries since sand­pa­per­gate, Khawaja has shown he is now the best bats­man in this re­vamped Aus­tralian side,” Horne wrote. —AFP


RE­LIEF: Aus­tralian crick­eter Us­man Khawaja cel­e­brates his cen­tury that helped his team se­cure a draw against Pak­istan.

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