Aus v WI 2023-24 – Steven Smith has no negative thoughts after opening pitch finally pays off

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    A reinvigorated Steven Smith has not considered what it would mean for his future if the move to Test opener does not pay off for Australia.

    Three days out from the first Test against the West Indies, Smith’s life at the top of the order began when he faced the new ball in the Adelaide Oval nets on Sunday.

    Undecided at first, selectors have been won over by a history of players succeeding when going to the top.

    “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.’

    But the move doesn’t come without risk. And the question remains that if Smith does not succeed and Cameron Green excels at No. 4, what would it mean for the former captain’s place in the side?

    “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.”

    Smith does see significant upside in the move, having only dropped down from No. 3 to No. 4 in 2017 to juggle the demands of captaincy.

    The 34-year-old believes he is at his best against the new ball. He averages 106.2 when walking to the wicket in the first two overs.

    Warner has also said teams would be unlikely to continue to regularly bounce Smith early in the innings, a tactic which has slowed the right-hander’s scoring down in recent years.

    “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.”

    But he also felt it unfair that Green could be forced to open this early in his career 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.”

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