Steve Smith’s climb to the top of the batting order is the main talking point around the Australian cricket team as they prepare for the Test series against West Indies. With David Warner retiring, Steve Smith has stepped in as the opener, moving Cameron Green to the No. 4 spot.
One of Australia’s all-time greats, Smith revealed he broached the topic of opening the batting first during last year’s Ashes. He brought it up again last month, but did not believe the idea was taken seriously until talking with coaches during the SCG Test against Pakistan.
“I’ve kind of been pushing it for a few weeks, even before Perth I think, and I might have been floated in England just randomly and said ‘I’ll get up top and I’m happy to play up top’,” he said. “In Perth, I kind of said ‘you know after Davey’s done I’m actually keen to get up there’.
“I don’t think they sort of took me seriously until I got to Sydney and I was like ‘I’m actually being genuine here. I’d be keen to get up top and face the new ball.’ And they were like, ‘all right, well, we’ll take that under advisement and see how it all looks.’
The move, though, doesn’t come without its risks. If Smith doesn’t succeed and Green excels at the No. 4 spot, what does it mean for the former Australia captain?
“I don’t like thinking that way,” Smith said. “I don’t want to think negative thoughts at all. I’m not sure. If someone gets injured in the middle and the next batters in are genuine openers, then maybe they slot back in [at the top] and I go back down. I don’t know the answer. But for right now we’ve got what we believe is our best six batters playing.”
The 34-year-old Smith believes he is at his best against the new ball. He averages 106.2 when coming in to bat in the first two overs.
“It would be pretty game if you’ve got a brand new ball bowling short stuff and wasting it,” Smith added. “It helps the scoring rate when you’re facing the new ball and there’s a bit more attacking going on.
“Over the last few years I’ve come in after quite a lot of runs, the ball’s a bit softer. “[They] have a cover in and maybe four on the legside, guys are bowling straight and able to control the scoreboard a little bit more. That’s probably kept me quieter and made me face a lot more balls to score runs.
“Perhaps that changes a bit with the new ball. You obviously have a bit more attacking fields and more gaps out there to score runs. I’m looking forward to that.”
Smith revealed he was sick of watching and waiting to bat, the batter said he was also keen on embracing a new challenge in his career. But he also felt it would have been unfair on Green if the selectors’ desire to have the allrounder back in the team landed him there.
“It didn’t sit right having him come in and bat up top,” Smith said. “I’ve played for a long time and I’m an experienced player and think it’s something that I should have done. He’s suited to No. 4. Plays there in Shield cricket, does well there.”