We’re a long way off from being a finished product: Tim Paine
Things are not looking good for Tim Paine and Australia. (Getty Image)

Following Australia’s crushing 373-run loss to Pakistan in the second Test in Dubai, captain Tim Paine admitted that the current Australian team has plenty of work to do in order to once again become a dominating Test team. Paine’s Australia made a remarkable comeback in the first Test in Dubai, with batsmen Usman Khawaja and Paine himself digging Australia out of grave danger and help escape with a draw. But they were completely outplayed in Abu Dhabi, losing 10 wickets for 93 runs in the second innings on Day 4 as Pakistan clinched the series 1-0.

Batting collapses have been Australia’s bane of late and Paine understood the need to rectify it, acknowledging the fact that the current Australian team was nowhere near the sides that ruled world cricket under Steve Waugh, Ricky Ponting or Michael Clarke.

“Guys that are testing our defence for long enough at the moment, whether that’s spin or medium pace or quick bowlers are getting rewards,” Paine said while addressing the media after the match. “And I think teams around the world are probably recognising that if they can just keep at us, keep at us, keep at us these collapses are happening. When you give them a sniff of that they are always in the game and always feel like they are not far away.

“Great Australian teams of the past have been completely the opposite of that. It was hard to get players out and the next guy comes in and it starts all over again. We know as a batting group and as a team we’re certainly a long way off the finished product.”

Having drawn the first Test heroically, Paine and the rest of the players were vocal about the prospect of Australia winning a rare series in the UAE. And the chances of that happening looked pretty strong when Australia had Pakistan at 57 for 5 in the first innings in Abu Dhabi. But Fakhar Zaman and captain Sarfraz Ahmed forged a 147-run stand to bring Pakistan back in the match. Australia had the chance to dictate terms with the bat, but they folded inside 150 in the first innings with Mohammad Abbas ripping through their batting with a five-wicket-haul.

“We had some momentum from the first Test,” he said. “We started really well here, and then (with Pakistan) at five for 57 it all went a bit pear shaped to be honest, all over the field. So it’s hard to swallow. I’d loved to go back to that lunch break (on the first day) and come back out and start again but we weren’t up for it. We weren’t able to sustain it for long enough.

“We came here to win this series and we did okay in the first Test and showed at least some fight. We showed the style and the brand of cricket we want to play in the second innings and then to come out and do that this Test it’s like taking one step forward and two steps back. It’s really frustrating.”

In the second innings, Australia collapsed again with Abbas once again being their tormentor. Australia’s batting has been pretty shoddy lately, and without Usman Khawaja – who was out injured – it was always going to be a herculean task chasing 538. Aaron Finch scored 32, while Travis Head and allrounder Marnus Labuschagne tried to hang on, but it was too much for the inexperienced batting line-up to overcome. The collective failures of Marsh brothers and a duck to Paine didn’t help either.

“There’s no doubt this has been happening for too long for the Australian cricket team,” Paine said. “Not just the Test team but domestically as well. “There’s a lot of batting collapses. A lot it can be technical, some guys can be mental and others will be tactical or your plans not being right for certain bowlers. There’s no shying away from the fact that we have a lot of work to do on our batting and it’s this team and throughout the whole country. We keep having these collapses and we keep talking about it.”

In both innings, barring the collapse, another common factor was Abbas, who finished with a match haul of 10 for 95 The 28-year-old was named Man of the Match and Man of the Series for taking 17 wickets in two Tests versus Australia – the best returns by a bowler in a series of that number in the UAE – and extended his overall tally to 59 in 10 Tests at an excellent average of 15.64. Abbas also became the first fast bowler to claim ten wickets in a Test in the country.

“I think guys knew what they were going to get from Mohammad Abbas,” Paine said. “He hasn’t changed. All the footage we’ve seen from him he bowls pretty much the same day in day out. There’s no doubt he’s highly skilled and he doesn’t miss the spot too much.”

With the high-profile four-Test series against India on the horizon, Paine added that it was important for the players to head back to domestic cricket and regain form if they were to reign supreme over the No. 1 team in the world.

“We get to go home now and I think there’s four rounds of Shield cricket for all of us to go back and hopefully score a lot of runs,” he said. “It’s a pretty exciting time to be a batsman around Shield cricket at the moment if you’re scoring hundreds, there’s no doubt about that. There’s opportunity for everyone and the batting group that are here are also a part of that.”

The first Test starts in Adelaide on December 6.