Operation T20 confidence
Forget that Test result, look over here. See, we can still hit sixes.
A fresh Australian Twenty20 combination will seek to reassure the nation - and themselves - that the Test team's UAE travails are more a matter of unfriendly conditions than a lack of quality in the playing personnel being called upon ever more broadly by the game's three formats and wall-to-wall schedule.
The T20 team convened on Saturday for training ahead of Wednesday's opening international of the home summer, also Adelaide Oval's televised cricket debut since its redevelopment was completed early in 2014. Led by Aaron Finch and a locum coach in the New South Wales mentor Trevor Bayliss, they face South Africa over three matches while Michael Clarke's team travel home and recover.
Ben Cutting said the struggles encountered by the Test team in Dubai and Abu Dhabi had raised the significance of the T20 matches, as confidence derived from home results needed to grow over the course of the summer leading into next year's World Cup.
"It's very important to make a good start," Cutting said at Adelaide Airport. "The Test boys are playing at the moment and having a bit of a tough time as you can imagine in those sorts of conditions, so for us to try to bring the focus back on home soil and start with a win would get the ball rolling for them when they get back next week. That's a big thing for us."
Equally important for Cutting will be the chance to show he has added a few extra kilometres of pace to his deliveries, following the Darren Lehmann directive that bowlers consistently topping 140kph would be looked upon favourably.
"I'm feeling pretty good with the ball, but felt like it was coming out nicely, a little bit more pace on it this year than last year and I'll keep working on that through the T20 format," he said. "A fair bit of gym work over the off-season, I've worked on a bit of core strength through the legs and just putting overs in my legs, and that's helped me get stronger than I was last year."
As a pace bowler, Cutting's attitude to T20 is somewhat fatalistic, knowing he is essentially there as an extra in the hitting exhibition. But of course his own ability to strike a long ball will be useful when Australia bat. "You're pretty much there for the entertainment aren't you?" he said. "The crowd wants to see big hits and sixes and not many wickets fall, so from that perspective it's all about trying to contain them and do the best you can to perform a bit of damage control.
"If you go for a few runs with the ball you can try to make up for it with the bat for the good of the team. I do enjoy getting out there and batting as much as I do bowling."
While Shane Watson will add plenty of international T20 experience to the side on his return from ankle and calf problems, the likes of Nathan Reardon and Ben Dunk will seek to make the most of a chance that might not have been afforded had Australia's selectors been able to consider their Test men.
"I probably wouldn't be human if I wasn't excited," Reardon said. "It's an opportunity for me to perform against one of the best attacks in world cricket so really looking forward to it.
"It's a little bit different but I guess [to be preparing while another team is in the UAE] that's just the way cricket's going, it's getting busier and busier and the schedule's pretty jam packed, so it's a good opportunity with those guys away for me to try and perform. I've been hitting the ball quite well through the pre-season in the one day competition, so hopefully I can continue that.
"I played BBL here the last couple of years and love playing in Adelaide. It was a little bit different with the construction site there but I'm looking forward to seeing what it's all about. It is suited to batsmen and a lot do like laying here. A lot of guys like the short square boundaries and I'm sure they're still pretty short even though the new stadium's been built."
Adelaide's towering new stands may make it more difficult to belt a ball clear out of the ground, but Reardon will be trying. "You can always give it a go."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig