Heat on as top order told to stop the rot

Australia has declared enough is enough.

The vulnerable top order that has been so often exposed over recent years, including during the Ashes, is determined to prove it won't be another case of Steve Smith or bust at the Gabba on Thursday.

England great Michael Vaughan says that as significant as Australia's achievement was in retaining the urn, in their heart of hearts they must realise that drawing the Ashes was a massive missed opportunity given their dominance of that series.

The heat is now on those batting around Smith to prove that Australia can shed its flaky reputation and dominate world cricket once again.

"It's no secret during the Ashes we relied probably too heavily on Steve," said Test captain Tim Paine.

"The rest of our top seven are really keen to score a lot of runs.

" … We'd like to support Steve, a lot more this summer.

"Our squad and our team have got our eyes set firmly on that (inaugural) Test Championship final in June 2021. That just adds to the importance of every Test match and playing consistent cricket, both home and away and in all types of conditions."

Steve Smith (left) and Pat Cummins (right) are seen during a team photo session at the Gabba. Picture: AAP Image/Darren England
Steve Smith (left) and Pat Cummins (right) are seen during a team photo session at the Gabba. Picture: AAP Image/Darren England

Many of Australia's first Test tribalists were skittled by Pakistan's high school attack last week, and Vaughan says there is huge responsibility on the shoulders of the top three - David Warner, Joe Burns and Marnus Labuschagne to lay down a marker for the baggy green juggernaut of old.

"If Pakistan can get some kind of lateral movement, there are question marks over many of the Australian players with the technical side of the game," said Vaughan, who is gearing up for another commentary summer on Fox Cricket.

"David Warner in Australian conditions is a different proposition, you have seen the way he played in the T20s. He's an outstanding player when he gets in against the Kookaburra ball.

"But if you can get movement against Australia, you're a chance of bowling them out."

Australia has endured several years of instability at No.3, the anchor position in the batting line-up formerly dominated by Ricky Ponting.

Marnus Labuschagne (right) pictured with Steve Smith at the Gabba has been tipped as the man most likely to lock down the crucial role as number 33 in the batting order. Picture: AAP Image/Darren England
Marnus Labuschagne (right) pictured with Steve Smith at the Gabba has been tipped as the man most likely to lock down the crucial role as number 33 in the batting order. Picture: AAP Image/Darren England

 

Vaughan flagged that Ashes revelation Labuschagne shapes as a key man this summer, as Paine endorsed the fighting star as the man to lock down Australia's batting at No.3.

"I think that No. 3 spot is his to nail down. I thought he did a wonderful job in England," said Paine.

"He's someone we think can fill that hole. He's had a terrific start to his Test career. He's got good technique, good character, good temperament and a good No. 3 needs all of those."

Vaughan says the patience of the top three will determine whether Australia can avenge what he believes was a hollow end to what had been a breakthrough Ashes campaign.

Despite the conjecture over selection leading into the first Test, Vaughan declared Australia must pick and stick.

"For Australia to really build and try and be the No. 1 Test team in the world I think they're going to have to stay loyal and consistent to the players they've picked this week," said Vaughan.

"If you want to be an outstanding Test match team you have to have a quality top three. You have to have that foundation.

"If you can get over the first 20 overs without losing too many wickets, and you know you have Steve Smith to come, you're in a fantastic position.

"Australia will be looking to work that out and make sure the first 20 overs is about back-to-basics.

"You can almost say to the bowlers they can have the first spell.

"I think if they're honest, Justin (Langer) and Tim Paine would have sat in a private room and gone, 'we should have won those Ashes. We should have won that series quite comfortably.'

"They will look at it as a massive opportunity missed."

 

Live stream the Australia v Pakistan Test Series with KAYO SPORTS on your TV or favourite device. Get your 14-day free trial >

Live stream the Australia v Pakistan Test Series with KAYO SPORTS on your TV or favourite device. Get your 14-day free trial >

News Corp Australia

NAMED: 11 people to face Emerald court today

premium_icon NAMED: 11 people to face Emerald court today

More than 10 people will face Emerald Magistrates Court.

Greenies using crowdfunding to bankroll protests

premium_icon Greenies using crowdfunding to bankroll protests

Anti-Adani protesters setting up GoFundMe's to get ­donations for their fines

Storms tear down trees, CQ prepares for week of 40C temps

premium_icon Storms tear down trees, CQ prepares for week of 40C temps

Sweltering conditions forecast for Central Queensland this week