Australia great Steve Waugh has promised the current crop of Baggy Greens will be no “shrinking violets” in the Ashes.
Much has been made of the overhaul of team culture that took place following the ill-tempered tour of South Africa that contained several unsavoury moments and culminated in the ball-tampering scandal.
Self-confessed ‘hippy’ Justin Langer replaced Darren Lehmann as head coach but the three players banned for conspiring to rough the ball up with sandpaper – Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft – have all been picked to face England at the first possible opportunity.
Waugh was renowned as a hard-bitten skipper in his own day, though he disowns the notion that he coined the famous phrase ‘mental disintegration’ to describe the psychological battle with opponents.
He is travelling with the touring squad as a team mentor – his first formal involvement with the national side in 15 years – and while he expects them to toe the line, he is not anticipating things to get too soft in the middle.
“There aren’t going to be any shrinking violets out there, they are going to be combative and it’s an Ashes series so expect them to play in a positive frame of mind with strong body language,” he said.
“A lot of people said we were ruthless (in the past) but the definition of being ruthless is fulfilling your potential and playing to the best you can possibly play – that’s what I wanted my team to do and if they said that was ruthless that was fine by me.
“We are brought up to play in a positive aggressive manner and I don’t see that being any different in this series.
“This side is going to be combative because that is the Australian way – they know they can’t cross over the line obviously. What happened 12-18 months ago has had a huge impact, but these guys have played in a fantastic spirit since then.
“Tim Paine (captain) and Langer have got that under control, they are seasoned campaigners and they’ve got their antennas up to what is going on. They know how to play in the right spirit.”
Australia had a minor injury scare during nets on Monday, with Warner leaving practice early following a painful blow to the left thigh.
Michael Neser was the bowler, drawing an inside edge, but a spokesman for Cricket Australia told PA there was no serious concerns. Warner was sent to have the area iced, with nothing more worrying that bruising to contend with.