AUSTRALIA has become somewhat of a laughing stock because of its lowly status in the shortest form of the game, but former vice-captain Tim Paine believes the side can still win this month's Twenty20 World Cup.
The Aussies are languishing in ninth place in the world rankings, having lost 12 of their past 17 games.
Paine is confident, however, the side can show its true colours in Sri Lanka.
"I don't think there's any doubt they can win the tournament," he said yesterday.
"The rankings don't mean a great deal and once this World Cup starts we'll find out who the best team in the world is."
The 27-year-old, who is returning from a finger injury that has plagued him for two years, believes the Australian line-up is too dangerous to disregard.
"Any Australian cricket team is full of class players and the Twenty20 side is no different," he said.
"With guys like David Warner and Shane Watson and Patrick Cummings, if they come off in a Twenty20 game, they can win it.
"They've certainly got the firepower. They could put it together."
Australia's reputation as a powerhouse in the sport took a battering last week when it was revealed the country's T20 side had slipped to 10th place in the ratings, below minnow Ireland.
Paine believes, however Australia's much-needed 94-run win over Pakistan on Monday night - a result that has moved the Aussies one place up the pecking order - may be the starting point for a cup-winning campaign.
"They're building to the World Cup and with a good win against Pakistan, it looks like they're going there in good shape," he said.
Paine was at Buderim yesterday for day two of Tasmania's three-day pre-season match against Victoria.
After getting through Australia A's recent tour of England unscathed, the wicketkeeper/batsmen appears to have overcome his injury woes.
"I think I'm finally getting there," he said.
"Obviously, in wicketkeeping and batting your fingers are quite important, so there are some slight things that have changed with my finger not bending, and not being able to close a fist.
"It's taken me time to get used to slight adjustments with my grip and learning different ways of catching the ball, but it's coming good and I'm pretty much used to it."
Not surprisingly, Paine is intent on reclaiming his place in the national squad.
"I wouldn't be playing cricket otherwise," he said.
"That's why I'm playing for Tasmania ... to play for Australia."
"My plans haven't changed. I want to start this year well and put my name back up there and be playing cricket for Australia soon."
Paine has played four Tests (average 35.87, 17 dismissals), 26 one-day internationals (29.48, 39 dismissals) and five international Twenty20 matches.