Sport Cricket Tickled pink with settled Test team, Australian bats prepare for new challenge

Tickled pink with settled Test team, Australian bats prepare for new challenge

Australian opener Joe Burns and coach Justin Langer in the Adelaide nets on Thursday. Photo: AAP
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Unbeaten in pink-ball Tests, Australia’s settled Test team is ready for the challenge of Pakistan quick Mohammad Abbas, who has been recalled for Friday’s second Test in Adelaide.

Abbas was a shock exclusion from the tourists team that lost the first Test at the Gabba by an innings and five runs, despite having smashed the Australian bats in the UAE series last year.

Then the canny right-arm seamer took 17 wickets at an average of 10.58 – something Pakistan skipper Azhar Ali hopes his man can repeat.

Seamer in chief: Mohammad Abbas in action at training this week. Photo: AAP

“He (Abbas) will definitely bring a lot of control … with a bowler of his class you always feel like he has something to offer,” Azhar said.

For his part, Australian captain Tim Paine says his batsmen are aware of the danger Abbas poses, given his ability to move the ball.

“We’re as prepared as we can be without facing him,” Paine told reporters on Thursday.

“We all know what he does. We’ve got a different side that played against him before.

“He’s an exceptional bowler. His record would suggest that. We’ve spoken about him.

“We’ve spoken about the whole team. We think they have showed enough in patches in Brisbane to show they are a dangerous side.

And if we’re not right on top of our game Abbas and the rest of the side can create problems.’’

One  thing in Australia’s favour is that only five players routed by Pakistan in the UAE remain in the side.

David Warner and Steve Smith were also not a part of that side while serving their 12-month bans, and both average above 60 in Australia.

Smith certainly has something to prove after his rare batting failure in Brisbane, for which he took a bit of stick from his teammates after the win.

“Nathan Lyon, when he sung our team song, [said it] was a tribute to Steve Smith,” coach Justin Langer said this week.

“Because I think it was the first time in history he was the lowest scorer for Australia.

“So we tipped a beer over him and thought it was a great laugh.”

At Thursday’s media conference Paine spoke of Smith’s difficulty in sleeping during Test matches, another thing that amuses his teammates given he’s a major investor in the Koala mattress company.

“I know that he is working with people at Cricket Australia and elsewhere on trying to find a better night’s sleep,” Paine said.

Cheer up sleepy Steve, runs are on the way. Photo: AAP

“He is plugging away at trying to get a better night’s sleep, but I don’t think it is an easy fix for someone who is wired the way Steve is.”

Still, if Smith can find a good night’s sleep and some more runs Paine is confident Australia can finally win back-to-back Tests.

Australia has won back-to-back Tests just once since the start of last year, most recently dropping off following its Ashes win in Manchester with the loss at The Oval.

“I wouldn’t say we’ve had a problem with (being ruthless),” Paine said.

“I would say we haven’t won a lot of cricket games in the past 18 months. But as I touched on in Brisbane, now we’ve got a team together that we’re turning up to Test matches expecting to win.

“One of the things we have spoken about as a group since (The Oval), we’ve just called it winning after winning.

“Making sure we can back up a performance, which we were really happy with last week.”

-with AAP