Paine ready to lead PM`s XI against England
Sydney: Tim Paine, hailed as a future Australian Test captain, said on Sunday he was feeling no pressure as he prepared to lead the Prime Minister`s XI against Ashes champions England in Canberra.
The Tasmanian wicketkeeper, 26, has been repeatedly linked with the Test captaincy as the uncertainty continues over incumbent Ricky Ponting and his deputy Michael Clarke following Australia`s dispiriting 3-1 Ashes series loss.
Paine will captain the PM`s side against the tourists in a one-dayer at Manuka Oval tomorrow and has also been named vice-captain of Australia`s side for this week`s two Twenty20 matches against England.
"It probably is a bit of an audition, but ... that`s a long, long way away," Paine told reporters.
"If I can get myself in a position to play enough cricket for Australia to even be considered for that job, then that would be fantastic.
"But as I said, that`s a long way off."
Paine is being fast-tracked by selectors as a future leader after playing just two T20 internationals and usurped Test gloveman Brad Haddin as the squad`s wicketkeeper this week.
The spotlight will also be on Paine as the one-day season gets underway next weekend against England in a seven-match series.
"I`m very honoured to have the captaincy ... and very proud, I suppose, to be spoken about by some of the great names of Australian cricket in that fashion," he said. "But it certainly hasn`t added any pressure."
Paine said Australia`s recent Test form had opened up opportunities for the next generation and he is ready to step-up if the chance arose.
"I showed in India that my batting is probably up to Test level," he said of the 2009 tour.
"But Brad (Haddin) is still the number one keeper in all formats ... so any role that I can get to play in the Australian team I will grab with both hands."
Paine made his Test debut against Pakistan last July.
The young PM`s XI are desperate to make up for Australia`s humiliating Ashes defeat.
Veteran fast bowler Brett Lee, who will be jockeying with many of his PM`s teammates for a spot in the World Cup side for next month`s tournament on the sub-continent, believes he has plenty left to offer.
"Hopefully, I can bring some experience, just bring a bit of different blood back in the team," said Lee, who will be used in conjunction with NSW teammate Trent Copeland and Victoria`s James Pattinson.
Lee is keen to be back in the action after injury problems, having made his last appearance for Australia at a one-day international in India back in October 2009.
England captain Andrew Strauss will be rested for tomorrow`s match making way for Collingwood to lead the team.