While the Covid-19 pandemic has brought cricket around the world to a standstill, things are not too different for Australia for whom it's the off-season as they prepare to enter their annual six-week leave period from Thursday.
Test captain Tim Paine is enjoying the downtime at home in Hobart, said that he is not ruling out the chance of Bangladesh tour getting postponed to many other things.
Speaking to reporters via video conference, Paine spoke on the challenges for some of his teammates who're used to being on the road, possible pay cuts due to the current crises, his captaincy goals and more in the below interaction:
On the challenges of staying home for cricketers who are so used to being on the road:
At the moment, I'm actually quite enjoying it, spending a bit of time with my kids and my wife, which is time that you don't get as much these days. It's still a slightly different feeling for us as cricketers because it is in a period for us which is a sort of holiday period except for the guys who would be in the IPL. So I'm not doing a hell of a lot different than what I would normally this time of the year. Probably a bit more gardening and plenty more time watching the Wiggles and stuff like that. I think for guys who are used to that 12-month cycle, I think this could be a really good thing to freshen up. I've got some texts from Marnus (Labuschagne), for whom the lack of social interaction is killing him and he can't get his mates over to play some cricket. Steve Smith, David Warner guys like that. They are high energy. They love to train. So this will be a real eye-opener for those guys.
On how Steve Smith would struggle not being able to bat:
I did read he's been doing a 10km run every day, so hopefully he doesn't come back as a skeleton, but him and Marnus and Davey are probably the three I worry about, they don't like sitting still. Steve and Marnus don't like not batting for too long and Davey he literally can't sit still. So I'm not sure what they'll be up to but I think Davey has got a home gym, he'd be in there literally 24/7 and Steve and Marnus would have some sort of contraption in their garage where they're hitting balls or they've got their wives or partners feeding them balls I imagine, because there's no way those two are going a week without batting.
On Joe Root getting motivated for the next Ashes (which is scheduled for 2021-22 in Australia) after watching a few episodes of The Test:
I hope Joe enjoyed it. I know a lot of people in Australia have certainly enjoyed it. It's gone down really well and we're really proud of the way it came up and what we wanted to do as a side was give the fans an insight not so much the opposition international captains but if that's given Joe extra motivation then that's fantastic. But in terms of me looking forward to that Ashes, it's not something that I've thought too much about at the moment. Obviously got some few huge series coming up over the next 12 months. We've certainly got people within Cricket Australia who are planning towards that Ashes series and will keep their eye on it. Personally, I am focused on Bangladesh and then India in Australia which will be huge, and then over in South Africa.
On whether it was a goal for him to captain Australia at the 2021-22 Ashes:
No that's not my goal at the moment. I've said a number of times that I'm sort of taking it series by series and that's something that I've been doing since I came back into the side as the wicket-keeper alone. That won't change now because I'm the captain and I'm not setting huge goals too far ahead whether or not I'm going to be playing. I've got some goals, and our team's got some goals, one of those is the ICC Test Championship Final and winning that. And at the moment, I haven't looked any further than that.
On if the World Test Championships final could get delayed:
Hope they don't push it back too far for my sake for sure. But yeah I think whether some series have been cancelled, whether one's going forward or going to continually be cancelled or we are going to postpone them and maybe players are going to go through a period where we play five weeks cricket if we want to complete the Test championships as it is at the moment. I think the players are certainly enjoying that points system and the fact that every Test match counts to something and you are playing towards a premiership if you like. I think all players will be in favour of trying to finish that in any way we can. But if it doesn't happen as I said there are bigger issues in the world and missing a few Test matches isn't going to hurt us.
On overall response to the documentary inside and outside the dressing-room:
Everything that I've been given is positive. I'm not sure if that's because I'm the captain or not. But everyone I've spoken to whether I'm grabbing a coffee down the road, whether (while) I was playing the last few games for my grade club or spoken to family and friends who are that connected to cricket, has loved the insight into the Australian cricket team. It's always been probably a change-room that you don't get to see a lot of. So I think the documentary and the broadcast rights we got now with the two TV stations has sort of opened up the dressing-room and given a real insight into how we go about things and I think that's been a great thing for the game, it's been a great thing for our team and it's been a great thing for the Australian public and potentially opposition captains like Joe Root to have a bit of a look. Hopefully people enjoyed it. We are sports fans as cricketers and as I've said before I love watching ESPN (films) on NFL or baseball teams for a number of years now. So it's great that cricket's sort of moved forward and done what we did with the documentary.
On whether the good response to the 'behind closed door meetings' footage in The Test will change how the team goes about them in the future:
No it hasn't changed anything. Having him (Andre Maguer the cameraperson) there, once you sort of got used to it, the first week or so, we literally went ahead as we normally would. We didn't change any meeting setups or any discussions that we would normally have because the documentary was being made. It was business as usual. That's what we wanted it to be with probably the one exception being the one after Headingley, which was something we hadn't done. And again, it wasn't done for the documentary. That was done because JL (Justin Langer) thought it was something we needed to do, which was to address the mistakes, speak about it in front of each other and come up with ways with which we could move forward and win that next Test in Manchester. Normally you do look at a lot of footage by yourselves as cricketers, not so much in front of the team and going forward as much as we did.
On potential pay-cuts when the contracts do get announced:
Discussions will start happening in the next week or so. There's obviously the delay in our list announcement if you like. I think there's a fair bit of water to go under the bridge from a cricket sense, But certainly if things happen similar to what's happened to football and other sports then we certainly got to do our bit to make sure the game survives and remains really healthy for years to come. If it comes to that, I'm sure that's something that the players will look at. But as I said, there are bigger issues going on around the world at the moment than how much our sportsmen are going to get paid. That'll be a small thing to us if that was to happen.
On whether the insight into how he goes about his captaincy in the documentary has helped his strengthen his grip on the team:
I'm not sure. I've always had really good, clean, clear communication with Justin Langer, Trever Hohns and Kevin Roberts about my captaincy. I've always known exactly where I've stood. They know where or how I'm thinking in terms of how far I can think I can play on. We're on the same page. It is nice that I've got some feedback and people like the way I'm going about it. I'm like everyone, sometimes need a pat on the back so to get some positive feedback is great from the fans.
On who he would recommend to be in-charge for the next Ashes series:
We are lucky. I think we've got quite a few options if that happens. I know it's a really big thing for JL and Kevin Roberts to make sure that we are developing a number of people when the role comes up, whether it's the Test role or when Aaron Finch decides that he's had enough. We've got a number of guys to choose from and put their hand up. At the moment, I'd like a Steve Smith who's done it before or ones that are developing underneath like a Travis Head or Alex Carey, Marnus Labuschagne. Pat Cummins is another one.
On if he's discussed a return to captaincy with Steve Smith:
I haven't had that conversation with Steve, I probably will at some stage no doubt, but I think if you look at the fact he's captaining Rajasthan Royals, captaining in The Hundred, it's obviously something that he loves doing. So if Steve Smith decides that's the way he wants to go then I will fully support him in trying to do it again.
On whether the Australian team's culture has trickled down to domestic cricket, where there were a couple of incidents of players being found using abusive language:
Not really. I think from memory you're looking at one or two very isolated instances, one with Patto (James Pattinson) and one in the Big Bash. So I think in general the behaviour throughout cricket in Australia has improved. I think the players have done a great job of that, it's still a really competitive environment where you're going at each other ... but I think certainly in the time I've been in cricket, the banter or abuse level has certainly changed. I think that's a good thing, I think that's what we want, I think it then allows us to have things like the stump mics turned up and we're able to take fans and spectators even closer to the game. Hopefully that behavioural trend can continue.
On whether the combative players in his side have changed their mind-set accordingly:
I think it's just been a change in mindset. I think those combative players still play the way they play, they've had to think a little bit more about how they go about it or what they actually say. I think there's still plenty of chat on cricket fields that I've been on, there's certainly still ways of getting in the contest and trying to get into players' heads without flat out abusing them, and I think that's been shown by the Australian men's team in particular.
On the one person he would want to net with based on the current social-distancing guidelines:
It would probably be with one of my good mates Rhett Lockyear, because he doesn't need one of the whangers, he can just throw and throw and throw for days, and he's only just down the road so he would have to be my pick. Apart from that probably Marnus because I know he will provide me with plenty of entertainment at the same time. I don't want to be facing them [Mitch Starc and Pat Cummins] at the best of times, certainly not coming back after a bit of a lay-off. I've become very, very good at avoiding both Mitch and Pat and Josh Hazlewood and James Pattinson for that matter. If we've got a net session I'll try and do wicketkeeping work for the time those guys are bowling.