Melbourne, Jan 31: Australia’s premier batter Steve Smith said he has enjoyed the first few weeks of being the Test opener, in what was his response to the critics who questioned the move.
On his request, Smith was elevated as Australia’s Test opener after the retirement of David Warner. He recorded scores of 12 and 11 not out in the first Test against the West Indies, before making six in the first innings of the second game at Brisbane.
Smith then carried his bat to make 91 not out in the second innings, where Australia suffered a shock eight-run defeat to West Indies. "There was a lot of commentary around I'd failed in two or three innings - I had a not out and two low scores. Now I'm averaging 60 as an opener.
"It was just another position; I've battled against the new ball numerous times, coming in early. I've enjoyed the first couple of weeks of it...if they see fit to move me back down, I'll do whatever the team needs," said Smith to reporters at the MCG on Wednesday.
His team-mate, top-order batter Marnus Labuschagne had a horrid time in Australia’s drawn 1-1 Test series against the West Indies, making just 19 runs in four innings. Smith advised his team-mate to not overthink and just keep things simple in the quest to regain form in the upcoming ODI series against West Indies starting on Friday.
"I think he’ll be the first to admit that he probably hasn’t got the scores on the board that he would have liked, but I think he feels like he’s batting well and we know how good of a player he is. I think as batters we’re always sort of searching for that perfection, and sometimes when you do try that little bit too hard it makes it that little bit further away.
"He’s definitely a thinker, sometimes maybe an overthinker, which I’ve said to him as well. It’s about sort of going to the basics and trusting yourself and doing all the work you want to do in the nets. But when you get out in the middle, it’s just about focusing on that ball coming down at you and playing each one to the best of your ability," said Smith.
Australia's three-match ODI series against the West Indies is their first outing in the format since winning the World Cup in India last year for a record sixth time. Smith, the stand-in captain, said he will bat in the middle-order, as the side continues to weigh up their top-order make-up.
"We'll keep it consistent I suppose and with myself and 'Marn' (Labuschagne) at four and five like the World Cup and then we'll probably see some guys having an opportunity up top and mixing matching a little bit. With the guys we've got in the squad, we've got some versatility there so it should be exciting."
"Mitch Marsh obviously isn't here, he's obviously a candidate to be batting somewhere in the top three in one-day cricket. I think it's maybe (Josh) Inglis and 'Greeny' (Cameron Green) potentially at three, we'll have to sort it out with the selectors, but I think that's the top three potentially for the first game."
Apart from Green and Inglis, Matt Short is also another top-order option, having done well for Adelaide Strikers in the Big Bash League (BBL). "I think he'll get opportunities both in the middle and top, what that looks like in terms of the three games, I'm not sure. His form has been outstanding recently as well, he's a quality player and he's absolutely smashed it for the Strikers the last few weeks." (IANS)