International Cricket

England agree to pre-series handshake as Australia aim to heal wounds of ball-tampering scandal

Australia captain Tim Paine is on a charm offensive following the revelations of Australian cheating on their tour of South Africa in March.

Australia captain Tim Paine says his players will shake hands with their England rivals before Wednesday’s clash at The Oval as the tourists aim to heal the wounds of their recent ball-tampering scandal.

Paine is on a charm offensive following the revelations of Australian cheating on their tour of South Africa in March.

Ahead of Australia’s one-day international meeting with England – their first competitive match since the scandal – Paine asked Eoin Morgan if the teams could have a pre-match handshake on the field.

England one-day captain Morgan has agreed to the request, but only for the opening game of the five-match series.

“They don’t have to do it but it’s something we want to bring in at the start of a series, not before every game,” Paine said on Tuesday.

Australia skipper Steve Smith and his deputy David Warner were banned for a year over the ball-tampering incident in the third Test against South Africa, paving the way for Paine to take over the captaincy.

Cameron Bancroft, who doctored a ball with sandpaper during South Africa’s win in Cape Town, was also banned for nine months by Cricket Australia.

Australia head coach Darren Lehmann lost his job after the shocking incident that rocked the sport.

Morgan confirmed England will agree to Australia’s request, with the hosts ready to help advance a positive view of the game after such a torrid period.

“I’m absolutely happy with that, it doesn’t bother me,” Morgan said.

“They are trying to turn around the image of the game in their country, and we’re all for that.

“We want cricket to be as popular as ever.”

Australia know they must build bridges across the cricketing world in order to repair reputations and trust.

New Australia coach Justin Langer has vowed his team will respect the line between banter and abuse in the series against England.

Australian values

Former captain Adam Gilchrist has insisted it would be “business as usual” for Australia on the sledging front as soon as they come under pressure.

But Paine concedes Australia must prove they are reformed characters.

“I can’t talk about it any more to be honest, we’ve talked about what’s acceptable from our team and what people are saying from outside our team doesn’t really matter,” Paine said.

“Internally we know what’s right and what’s wrong, and that’s what counts.

“Again we’ve spoken about this a lot in the last few months; we are aware that words are just words. We’ll be judged solely on our actions going forward.

“It’s now about living our actions, we’ve spoken about internally about our values as a team and how we want to be perceived by the Australian public and by the cricket public in general.

“Words are words, come Wednesday, it’s time for us to act on those words and show it by actions.”

Maintaining the theme of a new era of harmony between old rivals notorious for their bitter battles on the field, Morgan insisted England wouldn’t use the ball tampering as an excuse to bait the Australians.

Asked if England would use the incident in sledging, Morgan said: “No. If you look at it in that, it probably could be ammunition. It will be service as usual.

“We play our cricket pretty hard, positively, aggressively, so we’ll continue to do that.

“I’m expecting a tough series. Every time we’ve played against Australia, the side we’ve come up against has played hard, tough cricket, so we’ll expect that as well.”

Jos Buttler will return to an England team still recovering from Sunday’s shock six-run defeat to Scotland.

Morgan said his players must learn from that embarrassing result in Edinburgh when they face Australia.

“It’s no good losing the lesson and the game, you’ve got to take something from it,” he added.

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