Sydney, Jan 6: Australia’s top-order batter Marnus Labuschagne has said his team-mate Steven Smith is eager to be the opener for the side in Tests, citing that he really wants it and is motivated to take up the challenge.
At the end of day’s three play in the Sydney Test against Pakistan, Smith had said to ABC Grandstand that he was keen to be the next Test opener after David Warner’s retirement from the format.
“He averages 58 at five, 61 at four and 67 at three, so it seems like the higher he goes the more he averages. I’ve got no doubt if that’s the way we went, he would do very well. He really wants it, he wants that motivation… waiting to bat is not his forte, he wants to get out there straight away,” said Labuschagne, who made 62 not out, to SEN Radio after Australia beat Pakistan by eight wickets to win the series 3-0.
Asked whether he would consider the role himself, Labuschagne said though the team needs are his top priority, he’s happy with batting at number three. “I’m happy to do what the team needs, but I do love batting at three, I love the variety of the role.”
“At the moment it could be anyone… I’ve seen the media throwing around Travis Head, throwing around me, obviously the three openers outside of the squad, Cameron Bancroft, Matt Renshaw and Marcus Harris. Smudge (Steve Smith) seems like the lead frontrunner, the one that really wants it.”
Smith is the latest name to enter the discussion in opening the batting for Australia in Tests, with Cameron Green, Marcus Harris, Cameron Bancroft and Matt Renshaw being potential candidates to take Warner’s role. Kerry O’Keeffe, the former Australia cricketer, does not believe that Smith will be able to open the batting in Tests.
“I don’t know whether it was a throwaway line or not. Steve Smith turns 35 in June, I don’t know at this late stage in his career, he’s in the twilight. He’s still playing pretty well, but to go from four to one, I don’t know.”
“There seems to be a strong push to get Cameron Green somehow into that top six and that is a way of getting him there if Smith opens and Cameron Green comes in at four. The alternative is that Cameron Green opens.”
“If you can’t fit Green in there, then you go back to Renshaw, Harris and Bancroft. There’s a lot of jigsaw pieces that have to fit. I don’t see Steve Smith as legitimately being a factor,” he said on Fox Cricket.
Australian’s next Test assignment will be a two-match Test series against West Indies, with the first game beginning in Adelaide on January 17. Former Australian captain Ricky Ponting felt Smith opening the batting would disrupt Australia’s batting line-up and sees Cameron Bancroft as the next Test opener.
“I wouldn’t like to see him move from his number four position, to be honest. All this conversation is all about is how do we possibly get Cameron Green back into the side. And if they’re going to do it, as far as I’m concerned it has to be with the least disruption to the batting order as it is.”
“Smith and Labuschagne have been magnificent at three and four, they’ve been the backbone of Australia’s batting for the last three or four years since Labuschagne came into the team, and I wouldn’t like to see that disrupted, to be honest. Let’s wait and see … I’m putting my hand up, I said it a few weeks ago I think it should be Cameron Bancroft the man to get that chance,” Ponting said on Channel 7.
Similar views were echoed by former New Zealand wicketkeeper-batter Ian Smith. “He is just a great player and I think he deserves to go out on his own terms. But if it didn’t work for him at the top of the order, that is my only runner here. If it didn’t work for him — say he failed four or five times in a row at the top of the order, badly — what then?”
“Do you drop him back to No.4 and say, ‘That’s okay. We tried it with you.’ And then get someone else in. To be perfectly honest, playing against the West Indies, it is not a bad time to bring someone new in. We are not talking about the fiercest bowling attack in the world to get started on. But if Steve Smith wants to do it, I’m not going to point at him and say, ‘No pal’,” he said on Fox Cricket. (IANS)