Why is Steven Smith keen to open in Tests?

Prameyanews English

Published By : Prameya News Bureau | January 10, 2024 IST

Steven Smith

Anirudha Mishra

Strange but true. Former Australia captain Steven Smith, despite averaging above 60 at No 3 and No 4 positions, wants to open the batting in Test cricket.

Smith has never opened the batting in his 187 Test innings. His Test career average is above 58. So far, he averages 61.50 batting at No.4, and 67.07 from 29 innings when at No3, reveal statistics.

With the announcement of the 13-men Test squad for the West Indies series at home, it has also been confirmed that Smith will indeed open batting, though Matthew Renshaw has been picked in the team. In all probability, Renshaw will be a reserve opener.

But isn't it interesting why Smith wants to open in the post-David Warner era, when he has been successful in Australia's middle order?

Yes, that has bothered many. However, some feel there are a number of talents competing for the middle order slots in Australia.

Considering that, many Smith supporters presume that he is smart enough to know if he succeeds as an opener, his Test career will be stretched for a longer period.

Now, let's talk about the other middle order strong contenders in the Australian Test side, which includes Marnus Labuschagne, Mitchell Marsh, Cameron Green and Travis Head, to name a few.

In red-ball games,  Labuschagne has been in good touch in recent years. Even in ODI cricket, he has been impressive. Labuschagne proved his class in the ODI World Cup Final in Ahmedabad. He did a commendable job in an anchor role in trying situations, which was crucial in Australia's title win.

Cameron Green, Mitchel Marsh are proven all-rounders across formats. Travis Head too can be effective as a bowler in certain conditions.

Smith, who began his cricket career as a leg-spinner, has been a leading batter in all formats. He can bowl. But he hardly bowls these days.

In the recent three-Test Pakistan series, Smith was not exceptional with the bat. So his detractors may be keen to put his performance as a batter under the lens.

With such a backdrop and Smith having opened earlier in a few white-ball matches, he perhaps felt it's time to try himself as a Test opener after Warner's exit.

The former Australia captain is a smart operator and has tremendous situation reading skills. Many therefore feel Smith has taken a calculated risk by volunteering to open batting in Test matches.

To try himself as an opener against a comparatively weaker opposition like West Indies in a home series, is a safe bet by Smith, many cricket pundits believe.

However, some others think it is a bit unnecessary. They are optimistic that Smith has done enough to be retained as a middle order batter in Tests as well as ODIs.

However, in T20s, he may not always be an automatic pick in the Aussie squad. Therefore, he could have volunteered to open regularly in T20Is,  if he feels that can assure him a place in the playing XI for a few more years in the shortest format. But opinions do vary too.

Interestingly, Smith's willingness to open in Test cricket has been lauded by Chairman of Selectors George Bailey. So, there is every chance that even if he fails a few times in his new role as a Test opener, Smith will be backed. That's something refreshing for Smith, who like David Warner and Cameron Bancroft has suffered a lot due the infamous 'Sandpaper-gate Scandal of 2018' in South Africa.

The cricketing world knows Smith is a fighter. He does not give up easily. With his unique initial movements at the batting crease, he challenges even world's best bowlers, where to bowl him. He plays some unorthodox but very productive shots and takes the game away in difficult situations and challenging tracks.

He is a thinking and intelligent captain as well. Of course, he lost Australia captaincy after the 2018 'Sandpaper' controversy.

In recent times, even playing as a deputy to Pat Cummins, or captaining in his absence, Smith has been very successful. No doubt, he reads the match situations very well and draws plans accordingly.

In 105 Tests (187 innings), Smith has scored 9,514 runs with 58.01 average. He has scored 32 centuries, 40 half centuries and his highest remains 239. That definitely speaks volumes about his success in Test cricket as a prolific batsman. Smith, who bowls leg-spin,  has 19 Test scalps in Test cricket.

With such a track record, Smith definitely must have got enough clarity and understanding before he volunteered to open in Tests. Great players excel in trying situations. Smith's ability, sincerity, adaptability and smartness as a player or leader on the field is unquestionable.

Therefore, the cricketing world can only wait and watch what Steven Smith does in his new role as a Test opener. Knowing Smith, his supporters and even his years-long teammate Marnus Labuschagne is sure he will flourish as an opener. Let's hope so.

The Australian squad for the First Test against West Indies include -

Pat Cummins (captain), Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith, Marnus Labuschagne, Mitchell Marsh, Travis Head, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Renshaw and Scott Boland.

    Tags
  • Marnus Labuschagne
  • Cricket Australia
  • Steven Smith
  • George Bailey
  • Pat Cummins
  • David Warner
  • Cameron Bancroft

News7 Is Now On WhatsApp Join And Get Latest News Updates Delivered To You Via WhatsApp

You Might Also Like

More From Related News
Steven Smith
Steven Smith
Steven Smith
Steven Smith
Steven Smith
Steven Smith
Steven Smith
Steven Smith
Steven Smith
Steven Smith
Steven Smith
Steven Smith
Steven Smith
Steven Smith
Steven Smith
Steven Smith
Steven Smith
Steven Smith
Steven Smith
Steven Smith

Copyright © 2024 - Summa Real Media Private Limited. All Rights Reserved.