Tim Paine seemed a relieved man to be able to put the talking behind him and get on with playing cricket, as he won the toss and chose to bat first against England in the first ODI at the Kia Oval.
“We’re excited to be starting,” Paine said at the toss. “There’s been a lot of water under the bridge, and plenty of hard decisions to make.”
In the absence of so many of Australia’s first-choice players, including their front-line pace attack, Paine confirmed that Michael Neser would be making his debut, as a “hard-working competitive cricketer from Queensland.”
And in the absence of David Warner, it was also confirmed that Aaron Finch, Paine’s vice-captain, would be opening the batting alongside Travis Head.
Eoin Morgan, England’s captain, was unconcerned at losing the toss, especially given the early start time at The Oval would render the floodlights largely redundant during England’s chase.
“I would have bowled so it hasn’t made much difference,” Morgan said. “With us batting so far down the order, we enjoy chasing.”
England confirmed one change to the side that lost so famously against Scotland at the weekend, with Jos Buttler returning in the middle order in place of Sam Billings, who has been released, along with Jake Ball, to play for Kent and Nottinghamshire respectively in tomorrow’s Royal London Cup quarter-final.
Asked what the chat in the dressing room had been in the wake of the Scotland defeat, Morgan said: “Keep things simple, go back to basics a little bit. Today is a new day, so hopefully we can rectify a few mistakes.”
The two teams prefaced the contest by shaking hands out in the middle of the pitch, a gesture that Paine had said he would instigate on the eve of the game.
But if Australia hoped that the ball-tampering scandal could be put behind them, they had reckoned without the PR company who handed out free sheets of sandpaper with ‘4’ and ‘6’ embossed on them. These were officially banned from the venue on the grounds of ambush marketing, but that didn’t prevent several fans, and a few commentators, sneaking them through the turnstiles.
England: 1 Jonny Bairstow, 2 Jason Roy, 3 Alex Hales, 4 Joe Root, 5 Eoin Morgan (capt), 6 Jos Buttler (wk), 7 Moeen Ali, 8 David Willey, 9 Liam Plunkett, 10 Adil Rashid, 11 Mark Wood
Australia: 1 Aaron Finch, 2 Travis Head, 3 Shaun Marsh, 4 Marcus Stoinis, 5 Glenn Maxwell, 6 Tim Paine (capt & wk), 7 Ashton Agar, 8 Michael Neser, 9 Andrew Tye, 10 Kane Richardson, 11 Billy Stanlake