Manchester - Australia captain Tim Paine insisted the
reigning champions would be "right in the thick of" next year's World
Cup despite a 5-0 one-day international series loss to 2019 hosts England.
Paine's men were on course for a morale-boosting win when
they reduced England to 114 for eight in the fifth ODI at Old Trafford on
But they were ultimately made to pay for posting a total of
just 205 themselves as Jos Buttler's unbeaten 110 saw England to a thrilling
one-wicket win with nine balls to spare.
Australia, who still have a lone Twenty20 international at
Edgbaston on Wednesday before their tour ends, arrived in England without six
Former captain Steve Smith and his deputy David Warner, two
of the world's leading batsmen, were both given year-long bans for their roles
in the ball-tampering scandal that marred a Test match against South Africa at
Cape Town in March - a fiasco that led to Paine being parachuted in as the new
They were also without injured Ashes-winning fast bowlers
Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood, while all-rounder Mitchell
Marsh was sidelined too.
Yet even when they have been at full-strength, Australia
have struggled in ODI cricket lately, with Sunday's loss a 16th defeat in their
last 18 completed matches in this format.
But for all England are now number one in the ODI world
rankings, they have never won the World Cup, with the last of their three
losing appearances in the final back in 1992.
Australia, by contrast, have won the World Cup five times
and Paine believes they can draw on a reservoir of knockout knowledge come next
"We have a number of players who are out, whether they
are back or still injured, we're not sure," he said. "What I do know
is...we have a number of players in this squad who have played in and won World
Cups, so they know what it takes.
"I've heard a few times that this team doesn't have a
plan, or it doesn't know where it's going, but we have a clear direction.
"We know we are a long way off the mark at the moment
but a World Cup is not for 12 months and we know when we get our best team on
the park, playing our best cricket, we are going to be right in the thick of
But whether 33-year-old wicket-keeper Paine is involved
remains open to question.
It appeared the combined cares of captaincy and keeping were
weighing heavily when he dropped a simple catch during the fourth ODI in
Durham, while he scored just 36 runs in five innings this series.
Alex Carey, Paine's heir apparent with the gloves, topped
that in just one knock when the 26-year-old, playing as a specialist batsman,
made 44 on Sunday.
"I've said a few times before when you are my age it's
a bit foolish to look ahead," Paine also told reporters. "Certainly,
I am really looking forward to captaining the Test team and continuing how I
have been playing in that format.
"But where I go with the rest of my cricket is
something we will discuss in the coming weeks."
Meanwhile, Paine lamented Australia's failure to put a
"full game" together in this series.
"Every time England have put us under pressure, with
the bat or the ball, we have stumbled a little bit," he said.
For England, whose 481 for six during a 242-run win in the
third match of the series was a record total in any men's ODI, there was the
satisfaction of winning a game when all seemed lost.
"Winning games when you didn't deserve to, they're
almost the more enjoyable ones," said Buttler.
Asked if anyone else in the side could have played in
similar fashion to Buttler, England captain Eoin Morgan replied: "Probably
"To produce an innings like he did ... he managed to
get us over the line somehow...it's outstanding."