In an exciting contest on a relatively unresponsive Edgbaston pitch, Australia secured a thrilling two-wicket victory in the first match of the five-match Test series, thereby taking a 1-0 lead.
“I think the Aussies played ok in the first Test, I think we’ve got a lot of improvement in us. I’m not sure the Poms have got the depth to go with us,” Paine said on SEN Radio.
“We heard pre-series that they wanted hard and flat wickets. They got that in the first Test and it didn’t quite pan out.”
Prior to the series, captain Ben Stokes expressed England’s desire for fast and flat pitches to support their aggressive playing style.
However, following their defeat in Birmingham, it appears that the hosts have reconsidered their strategy. Paine suggests that a green wicket has been prepared for the second Test at Lord’s, indicating a shift in England’s game plan.
“If you look at tonight’s pitch, it looks like everyone’s backyard in Australia, so it’s going to be interesting. They’re obviously trying to bring (Stuart) Broad and (James) Anderson back into the Test match. They didn’t have much of an impact (in Birmingham).”
Paine added that the introduction of a green wicket will make the formidable veteran pacers James Anderson and Stuart Broad more potent, but he expects the English batters to face challenges on such a surface.
“They’re very reliant on Joe Root, their top three is pretty suspect and on a green wicket, whilst it will bring Broad and Anderson back into the contest, I think their batters are going to find it extremely difficult.”
On the other hand, the Australians too have to improve.
“We had a number of our good players down and I think our depth and our ability to play any situation and any condition and at any tempo is a real advantage in this series given we know how England are going to play,” Paine said.
“They’re going to come really hard and it makes them quite predictable. They’ll play into our hands a little bit and we can play on their ego.”
However, Paine is confident that Australia will get better as the series progresses.
“Our depth and the fact that some of our very best players were down means, I think, we’ll get better as the series goes on.
“They seem to rely on too few for me at the moment. They know that they can’t face Pat Cummins for long periods of time without making mistakes so they try and get you before you get them effectively,” Paine said.
“If you can stem their boundaries and make them work a little bit harder for their runs, we saw in the first Test that they’re not good enough for long enough.”
Paine believes that the inclination of the new coach McCullum and Test captain Stokes to prioritize an aggressive and entertaining style of cricket occasionally hampers their decision-making.
“It’s been interesting and really fascinating to watch when you’ve got a captain (Stokes) and a coach (McCullum) who are really similar. They’ve both kind of got pretty big egos, they’re both very aggressive, and always wanting to move the game forward.
“The brand they’re trying to play is excellent, it’s great to watch. I think at times it goes over into their decision making, we saw with the declaration (in the first innings) and some of the things they did during that Test match,” he said.
“At times you’ve just got to use some cricket smarts and know when to put the foot on the accelerator and when to absorb some pressure,” he added.