Pat Cummins responds to Aussie Test team backlash after brutal claim from Tim Paine

Paine says the epic second Test victory over New Zealand merely papered over the cracks for Australia.

Pat Cummins has refuted suggestions from former Aussie cricket captain Tim Paine that the current side needs a batting order shake-up. Paine said Australia's epic second Test victory over New Zealand - where a 98 not out from Alex Carey helped the Aussies claim an improbable three-wicket win - merely papered over the cracks for Cummins' side.

Paine says he agrees with the wave of criticism around Steve Smith at opener and says the batting order looks better with the veteran batting at No.4. The stats back up Paine's assertion, with Smith scoring just 51 runs across the two-Test series at 12.75. Smith's scores in his last eight innings read 12, 11 not out, 6, 91 not out, 31 0, 9 and 11, with his one and only half century coming against the West Indies.

Pictured left to right, Pat Cummins and Tim Paine.
Pat Cummins has brushed off suggestions from former Test captain Tim Paine that Australia's batting order needs a shake-up. Pic: Getty

“To me, it looks a better side with him at No.4,” he told SEN about Smith. “Whether that means you’re not playing someone else in the middle or one of them, like a Travis Head, goes to open. I know Travis doesn’t want to do that... so maybe it’s time to go to the specialist opener because we’ve seen Steve get out to balls he doesn’t usually get out to.”

Most of Australia's batters struggled at various points throughout the New Zealand Test series, with Marnus Labuschagne's first innings 90 in the second Test arresting a worrying form slump. Smith's opening partner Usman Khawaja also struggled, with scores of 16 and 11 giving him a modest 22 average for the series, while Head only managed a 17 average across the two Tests.

Cameron Green was the one bright spark in the batting line up with his 174 not out giving him the highest average (79.33) of the series. Green has looked solid at No.4 but it's also Smith's best position, presenting selectors with a conundrum.

Mitch Marsh had two ducks to go with his vital 80 and 140-run stand with Carey that swung the second Test in Australia's favour. Carey was also under immense pressure to deliver with the bat and perhaps bought himself a stay of execution with his superb match-winning knock in Christchurch.

Steve Smith trudges off after being dismissed for 11 in Australia's first innings of the second Test against New Zealand. Pic: Getty
Steve Smith trudges off after being dismissed for 11 in Australia's first innings of the second Test against New Zealand. Pic: Getty

Tim Paine turns spotlight on Aussie batters

However, Paine says there remains plenty for the Aussies to be worried about when it comes to their batting. The former Test skipper suggested on current form that we would struggle to beat England and India - with next summer's series against the latter being the next time the Aussies play a Test match.

“We’re a better team than them (New Zealand) and it was the same against the West Indies, there seems to be a bit of a pattern. Not scoring enough runs... you can’t always believe what they’re telling you, but the leadership and coaching and captain and selectors say, ‘We have no concerns with our batters’. Well, I do now,” Paine said.

“I think all of Australia does... there are more questions coming out of the last three or four Tests than answers, and we need to find some answers pretty quickly. We might not beat New Zealand, we’ve lost a Test to West Indies, we wouldn’t beat England if they were playing well with a full-strength side.

“India are certainly going to trouble us with Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, so there are some concerns. Internally, they must be speaking about it.”

Pat Cummins sees no need to change batting lineup

Cummins sees things very different though, and insists the Aussies are in "no rush to make rash changes". The Aussie skipper says rather than trying to pick holes in the side, the players should be celebrated for their backs-to-the-wall victory against the Kiwis and ability to find a way to win when not at their best.


"It's similar to almost the ODI World Cup where you keep finding a way to win, even if at times, it's not fully functioning, the whole unit," Cummins said. "At times I don't think we played our best cricket and still found a way to win.

"A couple of previous summers we've blown teams out of the water. This summer wasn't the case but at the key moment someone stood up and we found a way to win, so really proud of the group."

The Aussies have now completed a gruelling 15 months of cricket taking in two home summers of Test matches, a Test tour of India, the World Test Championship final, the Ashes, the one-day World Cup and the series against New Zealand. "It's been a big body of work," Cummins added. "The boys keep showing up, keep trying to get better each day and and keep finding a way to win, so couldn't be prouder."

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