Sydney: David Warner's mere presence makes Australia a better side and fills the other 10 on the park with exuberance and energy, skipper Tim Paine gushed on Wednesday as the opener looks set for return to Test cricket when the third match against India begins here Thursday.
Warner missed a lot of action since India arrived as he sustained a groin injury during the second ODI.
He is still not hundred percent fit but Paine's eulogies bore testimony to the team's desperation to get their opener back in the wake of their batting unit's flop show in three of the four innings so far.
"Hopefully, if he gets in and gets away, that puts pressure back on opposition right away. Regardless of whom we are playing, we are a better team when David Warner is in that team from the runs he scores or the energy he brings into the group," Paine said.
"He protects our middle-order a bit with Marnus (Labuschagne) and Steve coming in. Other guys coming when bowlers are a bit tired, it's an advantage. So David has got a huge role for us," his skipper said even as the senior opener is battling against time to get closer to full fitness.
There were multiple adjectives used by Paine in praise of Warner, who is an enforcer, who can lift the other players with his impact performance.
"David has been awesome. Fills the guys with a lot of confidence, he is a player you love having on your side. Always got plenty to say, really energetic, professional and I have always loved playing with him," Paine couldn't stop raving about the man, who was hated by his countrymen after his role in the ball tampering scandal in South Africa came to the fore.
However, Paine refused to believe that Australia's batting formula had gone for a toss during the first two games in Warner's absence.
"I don't think so as batting formula is very individual. You definitely want to bat long periods of time but how you do it is up to the player.
"David is known as a dashing opening batter but if the conditions are not favourable he's got to respect that. In short, he likes to be aggressive and no doubt about that but he has got great hand-eye skills and he can often score quicker than others," Paine said.
While Paine said that they won't be naming the squad immediately, he did drop enough hints about young Will Pucovski making his debut having recovered from a concussion suffered during a warm-up game against India A.
"Will has been fantastic as well. He has been out of the bubble for a couple of weeks. He is fresh and batting well in the nets, looks ready to go if he is called upon," said Paine, confirming that if he plays, he will open the batting.
As far as Pucovski's concussion goes, Paine feels that he is holding up quite well and he has no anxiety about him being peppered with short balls.
"Not for me but there will be anxiety around for anyone who is playing his first Test. Yeah, Will's been hit on the head a few times but he plays the short ball really well. As long as he is comfortable, we are comfortable. He is good to go and that's not a concern for him."
Having risen through the ranks, Paine has a lot of faith in both Pucovski and Cameron Green's cricketing abilities.
"...I love the way he goes about his cricket. He is a bit like Greeny. There is cricket talent and then there is character in the way they go about it. That stands out to me. Their temperament and character. Calm young men with immense skills. Will is a bit cheekier than Greeny. Great temperament, in control," the skipper praised the lads.
Paine also indicated that they will not shy away from using the bouncer tactic liberally in Sydney.
"Playing Test cricket is difficult and playing short ball of that pace is uncomfortable if you know someone had a weakness in that particular area. It's part of the game. It tests your mettle and shows what you are made up of unless you show otherwise.
"I think short ball is a great option and I think it will continue to happen. That's the tactic we have used and we expect to get plenty of back as well."
Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.
Smith, a former Australia captain, was seen scuffing up the batsman's guard during drinks break in the first session on Monday.
Paine's performance behind the wickets and his tactics as captain in the just-concluded Test series against India which Australia lost 1-2 were severely criticised by former players.
"I'd also like to say sorry to @mohammedsirajofficial and the Indian team as racism, and abuse is not in any way acceptable or tolerated anywhere at any time, and I would expect better from our home crowd," Warner said in an Instagram post.