Zany Aussie cricket photo strikes again
AFTER winning a Test series and the first T20 against India in India, Australia have been returning to form on the field recently.
But it's the side's off-field form which is grabbing attention.
Australia, taking one of their many team shoots before a series, had a different look.
Last time Australia was seen in one-dayers in January, the side was donned a strip similar to what Allan Border's side wore in a corresponding one-day series against the Indians - all the way back in 1986 - with a green strip across a canary yellow shirt.
Back in that team shoot, Adam Zampa and Peter Siddle linked arms, while Mitchell and Shaun Marsh held fingers, which surprised the cricketing public.
This time, reigning Allan Border Medallist Pat Cummins and 2018 One-Day Player of the Year Marcus Stoinis left out the subtlety, just holding hands tightly with each other, with giant smiles on their faces.
They even let Zampa in on the new trend he started, much to his apparent chagrin.
Social media watchers were trying to make sense of the new trend.
It's not the first time for Stoinis and Zampa, with the pair holding hands or touching fingers in several photos in both the Big Bash and past ODI performances.
The hand holding has been indicative of a lighter-hearted Australian set up after last years' damning Longstaff review found huge issues at Cricket Australia, especially after the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa.
To combat it, the side floated the "elite honesty" tag and had a softer approach when off the field in an attempt to win back the support of the general public.
Tim Paine's antics in the Test series, including the babysitter gag with India keeper Rishabh Pant, was a prime example of Australia's shift towards a friendlier face but it took some time for the Aussies to understand how to channel their aggression on the field.
With a World Cup in England coming up in May before the Ashes in August, Australia has continued its charm offensive on the subcontinent.
Although the spinning wickets of India won't match the swinging pitches in England and Wales, vice-captain Cummins is confident playing on the subcontinent will be good for Australia's preparation.
"The conditions will be different here than they will be in the World Cup," Cummins said. "(But) there are a lot of games at the World Cup.
"So by the end the wickets might be a bit more tired and spin a bit more like the Indian wickets. I think playing cricket anywhere is good preparation.
"Challenging yourself against the world's best batsmen, seeing how they go about it, seeing what works in these conditions will be pretty transferable to the World Cup.
"As bowlers if you can take wickets in the middle overs, especially against a really good line-up on wickets that are not as bowler-friendly than that will put us in great stead for the World Cup."
Cummins has proved himself Australia's most important cricketer, boasting the Midas touch with bat and ball, plus a capacity to deliver in clutch moments, but the superstar feels he still has plenty to learn ahead of the World Cup.
Cummins' stocks continue to rise at a remarkable rate - with the latest matchwinning performance - coming when he hit the winning runs in Australia's tour-opening Twenty20 win over India.
The express paceman excelled in good times and bad for Australia during their home summer, with jokes made that he should become Prime Minister.
Teammates have given Cummins new nicknames of 'No.1' and 'AB' after he recently claimed top spot in the International Cricket Council's Test bowling charts and pocketed the Allan Border Medal.
"I haven't played too much white-ball cricket this summer so I'm keen for that challenge," he said. "It's a totally different challenge to the red ball, which might swing around a bit more.
"Trying to take white-ball wickets and death bowling is something I haven't done too much of lately.
"But I couldn't be happier with how I'm placed, really happy with how my game is going at the moment. So many different things have fallen into place, including a bit of luck."
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