Steve Smith embraces test opener role amid criticisms, averages 60

Steve Smith silences critics as he embraces the Test opener role, averaging an impressive 60. Meanwhile, Labuschagne receives advice from Smith amidst batting struggles ahead of Australia’s ODI series against the West Indies.

Australia’s premier batsman, Steve Smith, has responded to critics by expressing his enjoyment of the first few weeks as the Test opener. Following David Warner’s retirement, Smith, by his own request, took on the role of Australia’s Test opener. Despite initial scrutiny, Smith has responded with notable performances, averaging 60 as an opener.

Addressing the criticism, Smith stated, “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.”

In contrast, Smith’s teammate Marnus Labuschagne faced challenges in Australia’s drawn 1-1 Test series against the West Indies, accumulating only 19 runs in four innings. Smith offered advice to Labuschagne, urging him not to overthink and to keep things simple in the upcoming ODI series against the West Indies.

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Smith remarked, “He’s definitely a thinker, sometimes maybe an overthinker, which I’ve said to him as well. It’s about going back to the basics and trusting yourself. 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.”

As Australia prepares for a three-match ODI series against the West Indies, their first in the format since winning the World Cup, Smith, the stand-in captain, revealed plans for the middle-order lineup. With consistency in mind, Smith and Labuschagne will bat at four and five, while the top-order composition is under consideration.

Smith mentioned, “Mitch Marsh obviously isn’t here, he’s a candidate to be batting somewhere in the top three. 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.”

In addition to Green and Inglis, Matt Short is another top-order option, having performed well for Adelaide Strikers in the Big Bash League. Smith acknowledged Short’s form, stating, “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