They’ve all sat through them. Long, wordy pre-season meetings in which Australian players are reminded of their values and obligations under the various charters, codes and policies they are signatories to. These sessions have long been seen as necessary, but a bit of a yawn – like HR compliance training at any company.
But in the wake of the Newlands ball-tampering scandal, Australia’s captain Tim Paine and coach Justin Langer are adamant that the squads to tour England and Zimbabwe for ODIs and Twenty20 matches over the next six weeks will know the difference between paying lip service and actually living out the expectations of the Australian team. In the face of an expected hostile English reception, and up against Eoin Morgan’s trendsetting 50-overs combination, this will be no small challenge.
Spot-fixing claims are unsubstantiated – Paine
Australia captain Tim Paine downplayed the spot-fixing allegations against his team during their 2017 Test against India in Ranchi. “As far as I’m aware at the moment, the claims are unsubstantiated, and as far as I’m concerned, our players have got nothing to worry about,” Paine said in Brisbane. “I’ve never seen anything like it, to be honest, and I can’t speak on behalf of all of our guys, but I certainly know it’s never been spoken about in Australian dressing rooms that I’ve been involved in.”
Paine’s response came ahead of his side’s departure to London for a limited-overs series against England, and the Australia captain was confident the developments of the last few days will not affect the team’s psyche.
“I’m really confident none of our players are involved and this group is really focused on going to England tonight and putting up a really good performance over there,” he said. “I don’t think [it will affect team’s image], at this stage it’s unsubstantiated claims and we’re confident that none of our guys are involved in it.”
“Justin sat us down for a team meeting last week and spoke about the Australian cricket team’s values, and what he expects,” Paine said in Brisbane before the squad’s departure to London. “It’s nothing that’s brand new, nothing the guys haven’t heard before – it’s purely about acting on what we know is the right thing to do and the right way to play our cricket.
“Justin’s big thing is about living our values. We’ve had Spirit of Cricket documents, we’ve had Code of Conduct documents, but at the end of the day they mean nothing if you don’t act on them and you don’t live by them. That’s been a huge focus for us, has been around our actions, our behaviours, and making sure we live up to the standards that the Australian cricket team should.
“So we’ve spoken about it, but getting on a plane tonight now, we get to go over there and talk through our actions, which the guys are looking forward to.”
Quite apart from all the issues to arise out of South Africa, leaving Paine as captain, Australia have been a faulty limited-overs combination in recent times, having sunk from the peak of the 2015 World Cup victory at home. Paine spoke about the balance between seeking high performance and striking the right note as a team.
“We’re going over there to win this series. We’re not going over there to make up the numbers or to be the nicest Australian cricket team ever to play against,” Paine said. “We’re going to be really competitive; at the same time we’re going to be really respectful, but we’re going there to win.
“We’re probably going to get a bit more intense spotlight from their media when we first arrive. But we’ve spoken about the way we want to hold ourselves, the way we want to behave, and I’m sure once we get there and get into playing cricket, those sorts of things will die off into the background and cricket will be the number one focus.”