Tim Paine's Humble Leadership Should Make Us All Proud
England fans have been too busy booing Smith and Warner to notice the transformation.
But the culture of Australian cricket has changed. And the tone-setter has been Tim Paine, the man who replaced Steve Smith as captain after the ball-tampering scandal of March, 2018.
Paine's comments after the Aussies won the fourth Test at Old Trafford by 185 runs were all class.
Asked by a British reporter whether he was particularly satisfied to be captain of this history-making team -- which secured Australia's first Ashes success in England since 2001 -- Paine said:
"My dream as a cricketer was to come here and win an Ashes. It certainly wasn't to be a captain of a winning Ashes. [Being captain] doesn't really mean any more or less.
"I've said a lot of times that my part in this team is one of many jobs that people are doing. I get a lot of credit at times, but it's certainly something we share around our group, both players and staff. I'm just bloody happy to be part of it."
That's Paine in a nutshell. Team first, self second. And he followed up those thoughts with a line which got a few laughs.
"I could have been working at Kookaburra, so this isn't too bad."
It's true. Paine's cricket career appeared to be going nowhere early last year, and he was set to move to Melbourne to take up a job with cricket equipment manufacturer Kookaburra before he was suddenly called into the nation's top sporting post.
Paine really is difficult to dislike. England fans have mostly ignored him this series, which has been easy to do on two counts.
Firstly, the Tasmanian hasn't made many runs. And secondly, he's not one of those guys who lead with force of personality -- although he did memorably bait Indian captain Virat Kohli with some great humour last summer.
But regardless of how Paine framed this Ashes victory as one for the team, it was his as much as anyone's. Obviously the avalanche of runs from the bat of Steve Smith played a huge part, as did the incredible bowling of -- in particular -- Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins.
But Paine, and the senior brains trust of the team -- including the selectors and coach Justin Langer -- all deserve credit.
In a cultural sense, Paine has helped Australian cricket press the reset button, and this might just be the moment our male cricketers are known for their good sportsmanship, as well as being good at actual sport.
Meanwhile, as twilight fell in England, our boys hit the middle of the pitch at Old Trafford to let it all hang out and celebrate their gutsy win.
This was obviously best done by singing 'True Blue' -- John Williamson's classic ode to mateship and cockatoos and Vegemite and all things iconically Aussie.
And of course, by putting your beer goggles on, or whatever Steve Smith is wearing here.
Opening batsman Marcus Harris lowered the tone slightly as he accosted Nine's Tony Jones, yelling "We sh*t it in!".
At least Harris only talked about bodily functions rather than performing them. Infamously in 2013, England players queued up to pee on the pitch late in the evening after securing the Ashes at The Oval in London.
Can you imagine a team led by Tim Paine doing that? We rest our case.