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The Ashes 2013-14

Learning on the job

On his way to a central place in Australia's batting line-up and their leadership plans for the future, Steven Smith talks about his journey so far

Daniel Brettig

November 18, 2013

Comments: 41 | Text size: A | A

Steven Smith brought out the overhead smash, England v Australia, 5th Investec Test, The Oval, 2nd day, August 22, 2013
Steven Smith: the poking and prodding of 2010-11 has been replaced by a far more stable and aware technique © Getty Images

Eight years ago, Steven Smith sat in the principal's office of Menai High School in Sutherland Shire, a pensive look passing across his chubby face. The source of the tension was not of the kind usually associated with high-school students finding themselves in this position. Smith had been a good and popular student, but at 17 he envisioned a future well away from the Higher School Certificate. Accompanied by his junior coach, Trent Woodhill, Smith wanted to state his intention to leave early.

It was not a decision everyone approved of, including the Cricket New South Wales welfare officer present at the meeting. He made a sturdy case for not rushing Smith, allowing him to complete his schooling, and putting full-time cricket on hold to make sure he had something else to fall back on. After listening for a time, Woodhill interrupted. "No disrespect to the school," he declared, "but Steve's going to make $1 million a year for a good ten years of his life. He's that good a cricketer.

"Steve nodded his head and said thanks, the principal said, 'I couldn't agree more, he's a good student but his mind is with his cricket, so I reckon he should give it a go, he can always chase his schooling later if need be'," Woodhill recalls. "The welfare officer was absolutely gobsmacked and we walked out of there. We still laugh about it."

For a few of the years since then, the cricket world has laughed at Smith rather than with him, as he found himself thrust into the front rank of Australian cricketers a few summers before his time. But an education on cricket grounds rather than in classrooms seems now to be bearing fruit. His progress has not always been smooth, pockmarked by the advice of as many as 15 batting and bowling coaches, but it has now stabilised into a strong upward curve. With each match, each innings, Smith appears to be benefiting from lessons on the job.

"It did help having a lot of exposure to international cricket at such a young age. That showed me what I need to do to be successful at that level," Smith said. "I probably didn't have what it took at that time to be successful, and being able to have that taste of it and then go back to state cricket and Australia A and try to find a way to get through those situations and tighten up my technique, it's definitely been a benefit."

The self-reliance evident in these words has always been there, but for some time after Smith's emergence he had to contend with the fact that his own methods were not thought correct enough to be sure of success. In the years between his departure from Menai and his first brush with Test matches in 2010-11, Smith found his batting and bowling techniques picked apart. As his junior coach, Woodhill had stressed to Smith the importance of working things out for himself. This simple maxim became more difficult to follow with each new coach Smith encountered.

"I can remember certain members of the NSW youth programme saying, 'This kid won't progress, he's too flashy, his technique's not right.' Steve's had to battle a lot harder than people from the outside would probably realise," Woodhill said. "He's unorthodox, and Australians hate unorthodox cricketers. If he was an Indian cricketer right now, he'd be untouched, he'd be smoother, he'd be fluent, but in Australian cricket, from a young age people want to talk technique.

"As much as he's only 24 now and from the outside he got picked early for Australia and made his way through NSW, he's had to fight for his technique along the way. We want to clone batsmen in Australia. Everyone wanted to bat like Greg Chappell in the 1970s and the 1980s, then everyone wanted to bat like Steve Waugh in the 1990s, then we had the power phase with Matthew Hayden, we've had people wanting to bat like Michael Clarke and Shane Watson.

"It's very hard in Australia if you've got an unorthodox technique, to find someone who can help you bring it on. They want to go to the manual, they want to get it to match up. A lot of things the Indian and Pakistani players don't do - all they have is the game and they learn the technique from playing. That's where we let a lot of players down, by over-coaching them."

For a time, Smith was also a victim of mistaken identity. When he first emerged as a contender for an Australian Test berth across the summer of 2009-10, it was not his batting that attracted the most attention. Four centuries were apparently of less note than his hard-spun legbreaks and blond hair. A seven-wicket cloudburst against South Australia at the SCG excited a national selection panel grasping with increasing desperation for another Shane Warne. In England, Smith debuted as the No. 1 spinner, but the most notable contribution of his first two Tests were not the legbreaks but an uproarious 77 in a losing cause against Pakistan at Headingley.

"We want to clone batsmen in Australia. Everyone wanted to bat like Greg Chappell in the 1970s and the 1980s, then everyone wanted to bat like Steve Waugh in the 1990s" Smith's junior coach Trent Woodhill

Though Smith's dancing feet to spinners were unveiled as he tucked into Danish Kaneria, he toured India later that year as the spin bowling back-up to Nathan Hauritz. He only made it onto the field as a substitute fielder in Mohali, when a severely underdone Doug Bollinger suffered the side strain that probably cost Australia the match. Even so, it was Smith who went closest to conjuring victory when a stiff VVS Laxman and nervy Pragyan Ojha had crept to within a few runs of their eventual one-wicket win.

Six runs were still required when Mitchell Johnson and the Australian slips cordon went up vehemently for an lbw appeal against Ojha. While Billy Bowden shook his head, Smith picked up the ball on the off side and threw for the non-striker's end, where Laxman's runner was well out of his ground. Had the ball hit, Smith would have been a match-winning wunderkind. Instead, it missed by centimetres, and the four overthrows took India to the cusp of victory.

Australia's next sight of Smith was in mid-Ashes series, when he and Phillip Hughes were dropped into a team that was 1-0 down and considerably further behind in terms of energy and purpose. Speaking at a joint press conference with Hughes, a wide-eyed Smith said part of his commission was "to come into the side and be fun". The guffaws of the English press in attendance would be replicated by the touring players on the field over the next three Tests, as Smith found his technique examined with forensic precision by James Anderson, Chris Tremlett and Tim Bresnan.

"I probably wasn't quite ready for it at that time," Smith said of 2010-11, when his only half-century of the series arrived as the last rites were administered at an SCG deserted of anyone not swearing loyalty to the Barmy Army. "I'd come off some good cricket and scored some big runs on the trot in a couple of games for NSW, but looking back, I don't think I was technically correct enough to be successful at this level."

Smith went to the subcontinent for the 2011 World Cup but could not hold down a regular place. He made inadvertent headlines when vying with Ponting for a skied catch against Canada, their gentle collision and the captain's angry reaction beamed around the world. The moment said much about Ponting's dissatisfaction with a team that seemed to be losing direction, but the lesson about not drifting in the field has not been lost on Smith, now that his own captaincy credentials are being spoken of by many, including Ponting.

"I watch the game pretty closely and think of a few things that I'd do perhaps differently to what's going on and throw up ideas here and there as well," Smith said. "That's how you learn and if you eventually get that opportunity to captain any team, you've already done all the work on the field to know what you need to be doing, so it keeps you alert on the field as well. I think people can start drifting. You're out there for a long time and I think it keeps you focused on the game and ready for every ball."

Leadership was to be the area in which Smith next impressed. Named captain of the Sydney Sixers in the first edition of the Big Bash League, he guided the magenta-clad team adroitly, helped along by the wise words of the Test wicketkeeper and vice-captain Brad Haddin. Either side of the Sixers' tournament victory, Smith showed evidence his batting had begun to mature, a greater tightness in defence allied to the earlier flair. When they faced Smith, Victoria's Chris Rogers and Andrew McDonald were two among many older players to sense that a precocious game was starting to grow.

Phillip Hughes embraces Steve Smith after another wicket falls, England v Australia, 2nd Investec Ashes Test, Lord's, 1st day, July 18, 2013
Few have trouble picturing Smith as a captain in years to come © AFP

At length, a new selection panel began to agree. Opportunities were limited - an ODI here, a T20 there - but Smith's place in the future again began to appear more assured. Those who had not seen him bat since the SCG Ashes Test in 2011 were gratified by the sight of a still head and a straighter defensive blade during his fleeting appearances for the national team. A call-up for India following the retirements of Ponting and Michael Hussey followed, and Smith's runs in the final two Tests amid the chaos of "Homeworkgate" suggested a major leap had been made.

The national selector John Inverarity's intentions for Smith would appear a little muddled in subsequent months, as he was first omitted from the Ashes squad but named vice-captain of the Australia A tour that preceded the Tests. A staunch hundred against Ireland on a difficult pitch in Belfast stood out, and Smith was then included at the behest of Clarke and the coach Mickey Arthur. By the time Smith joined the rest of the squad, Arthur was gone, and Darren Lehmann installed to mentor the team.

This upheaval did not detract from Smith's progress, and runs accrued in a variety of situations and conditions, at Trent Bridge, Old Trafford and The Oval. Team-mates enjoyed Smith's lack of ego and eagerness to learn; few have trouble picturing him as a captain in years to come. His early forays in the role with NSW in the domestic limited-overs competition were notable for their energy and insight, his collusion with offspinner Nathan Lyon particularly promising as the Blues reached the tournament final.

As for his batting, the poking and prodding of 2010-11 has been replaced by something far more stable and aware. Smith's importance to Australia's top six for the return series was underlined by the selectors' decision not to send him to India on ODI duty, despite his obvious affinity for the conditions. Instead they preferred that he spent time grooving his game on Australian pitches, the better to counter England's pacemen on swifter pitches. A sequence of intelligent domestic innings was capped by a century against Victoria at the MCG. Anderson and company await.

"It does help your confidence to know that you can do it against one of the best bowling attacks in the world," Smith said of England. "I've taken a lot out of that tour. It was tough with the result, but I've certainly gained a lot of confidence out of it. I think I understand a bit more now how bowlers are trying to get me out, and where my scoring options are, and just playing the percentages a lot more.

"A lot of that's been able to come from tightening up my technique. I got rid of one bat tap I used to have as I was about to face up, and getting rid of that's made me more stable and able to get in better positions and play, particularly fast bowling, a lot easier. I feel like I'm good to go now."

For Woodhill, Smith's tale is vindication of the idea that cricketers should be given room to evolve for themselves. Just as he outgrew Menai High School, Smith has prospered without too many scholarly batting voices in his ear.

"Steve's got an unorthodox and very Indian technique, the way he holds the bat, his movements, and thankfully over the last two years he's taken greater ownership of his own game," he said. "He's followed the lead of Michael Clarke, who has great ownership of his own batting technique and game, and he's catching up on some lost years where others had tried to change his grip, his stance, his backswing. He's now fluent as he's been for a long time and that's only going to get better."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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Posted by WeirPicki on (November 20, 2013, 2:01 GMT)

Oh c'mon, Steve Smith is average at best. His record is nothing to get excited about. As for his technique, yes it is dreadful and the good bowlers will clean him up in years to come (if he lasts that long).

Posted by Clavers on (November 19, 2013, 22:09 GMT)

He should be getting bowling coaching from Malcolm Francke, the best coach of leg spin in Australia.

Posted by   on (November 19, 2013, 13:55 GMT)

@Satyasing: Nice joke buddy. Smith will be Australia's Sachin just like Vinay Kumar will be India's McGrath and Simon Kerrigan will be England's Warne.

Posted by KeithMillersHair on (November 19, 2013, 5:54 GMT)

I fully admit to being one of his biggest knockers in his early series, and especially ahead of the India series. I had heard that his batting improved, but by that stage I had such little faith in the selectors - and in Smith - that I didn't believe it. In the end it looks like he is coming good as a batsman and very handy part-time bowler. He's not there yet, but suddenly it feels like it is just a matter of time. It is hard to believe he is still just 24. I really feel that the Australian selectors have done some of our young players a disservice by calling them into the team before they are ready and then dumping them the second they fail. Smith, Hughes and Agar all played there first test aged about 21 or less and all got a bit showed up despite showing some real talent. Lesson learned: if the kid is anyone but Tendulkar wait a couple of extra years before you throw them in the deep end.

Posted by dunger.bob on (November 19, 2013, 2:51 GMT)

I really like Steve as a player. You can tell he's matured a lot just by looking at him. He's still fidgety and hyperactive, but there seems to be more focus and grit about him these days. He concentrates on keeping the good ones out much better now I'd say.

My 2 cents worth about technique. .. One of my all time favourite batsmen, the great and powerful Viv Richards had a technique that you probably won't find in too many textbooks. Yet the man was plain and simply awesome. .. On the other hand, Mike Atherton was what I'd call a technically correct batsman. He was a good player that's for sure, but he was no Viv Richards. Not in a million years.

Posted by Insult_2_Injury on (November 19, 2013, 2:29 GMT)

The luckiest bloke to be playing international cricket outside of any New Zealander, except B McCullum. If you found it hard warming to Watson or Clarke, good luck with Smith!

Posted by Sathyasing on (November 19, 2013, 1:13 GMT)

Its a late pickup,i would say.He is a prodigy and more innovative.With right guidance and proper grooming ,he is going to be australian sachin.

Posted by sando31 on (November 19, 2013, 1:08 GMT)

Technique is important, but it isn't everything and Smith certainly finds a way to score runs. Comparing him to his fellow counterparts such as Hughes and Khawaja it is obvious that he's mentally stronger and never overawed by different situations. Hughes, khawaja and Smith are all brilliant run scoring machines on their day but I'd rather have Smith come to the crease in the midst of a collapse

Posted by regofpicton on (November 18, 2013, 23:08 GMT)

Always liked the look of this player. Generaly gets out only to good balls, while lots of other players often get out to rubbish. ( Ask any New Zealand fan! ) His bowling would surely benefit from coaching, but it has to be the right coach and it is hard to image that Davison could be that man. And what's wrong with the cross-court forehand anyway? Wins Federer lots of matches!

Posted by   on (November 18, 2013, 22:14 GMT)

Smith has just one century and is regarded as a future captain? Australia must be the easiest test team to get into as a batsman or a spinner these days. Players like Warner (t20 slogger), Hughes (can't play seam, swing or spin) and Smith (blonde leg spinner turned all rounder turned specialist no.5 batsman with an average in lower 30s) get into and cement places in the team which once upon a time had such high standards that Mike Hussey took forever to break into the team. Smith never showed the technique or temperament to arrest the batting collapses seen in the Ashes. Rather, he was a part of the collapses. When will people realize that he is part of the problem, not the solution!

Posted by   on (November 18, 2013, 22:02 GMT)

Smith is a product of the "desperation selection" or "hail mary selection" that has been displayed by Aussie selectors of late, since the retirement of the stalwarts. First they wanted a leg spinner and Steve Smith was the answer (not) and now they want a batsman and Steve smith is the answer (not) again. Tomorrow if Smith fails in the batting role as well he could possibly be in the picture again if Aussies need a wicket keeper after Haddin, as there are no obvious replacements seen, and all Smith needs to do is to "declare" that he is a wicketkeeper. @Mitty2: His 90 in India was on a day 1 flat deck which provided no assistance to any bowling. Shikhar Dhawan almost made a double century there batting second. When the ball seams or spins, Smith's technique will be his downfall as it has been till date.

Posted by ScottStevo on (November 18, 2013, 21:38 GMT)

@Mitty2, disagree again. Technique is the basis of sound strokemaking too. These fundamentals should be drilled into players so that when mental fatigue sets in, the technique stays even when flying on auto pilot. I agree, those attributes are crucial requirements, however, I've always been taught, you start with a good base and build from there and sound technique is that base. We'll have to agree to disagree on Watson as I think he has quite a decent technique. Usman is a worry, he certainly looks an elegant batsmen, he even looks the part in the middle, yet can't seem to convert the starts he makes. It's a worrying sign that he's not got that great a temperament, although, it's not as if we've given the lad much of a chance. Even Ricky took his time to settle in. A luxury since our golden era youngsters are no longer what cost? A quick look at Smiths tour, he made 2 50s 1 ton and 7 digs under 20. Like I said, he needs to become consistent to be a test #5.

Posted by Bonehead_maz on (November 18, 2013, 20:54 GMT)

Wish there were more "protectors" like Trent Woodhill and less technical coaches around young talent. Smith is an outstanding athlete (just watch him field) and Australian cricket is lucky to have him. Inverarity would have loved to be near as good. As his confidence in his batting grows (which I am certain it will this series), I look forward to him bowling more. I reckon this guy may end up with only Aubrey Faulkner as comparison.

Posted by Jaffa79 on (November 18, 2013, 20:22 GMT)

I'll be honest, I thought Smith was absolute garbage in Aus in 2010-11 and I expected more of the same in England this summer. He was however, ok! Batting very well at the Oval, albeit on a road but he still looked like he had arrived in Test cricket. I agree that technique is not everything and he looks to have the minerals to make runs at Test level but I'd be surprised if England weren't looking to test him out with the rising ball outside offstump.

Posted by vaidy on (November 18, 2013, 20:18 GMT)

Can't we just let him get on with his game? He is a good player, no doubt. Why does everyone want to put pressure on him saying things like "he is a future captain etc". He has a long way to go to get there - at least 2 seasons of regular international cricket before we can heap more pressure on him.

Back of people, let the lad breathe...

Posted by CodandChips on (November 18, 2013, 18:07 GMT)

His inings at the Oval showed he is ready for Test Cricket. If he sorts out hiis bowling, he could be a useful allrounder for Australia. His fidgeting can be annoying but he's an exciting young player.

It's good to see so many young batsmen around. Kohli, Root, Bravo, Rutherford and Williamson immediately come to mind, but there are plenty of others like Smith and de Kock.

Posted by 2MikeGattings on (November 18, 2013, 16:01 GMT)

Definitely took his opportunity in the last Ashes series and has his place on merit. For me it's always entertaining when he comes to the crease. He was pretty effective against Swann. I expect England's fiddly seamers to come up with some pretty good plans for him. Should be good to watch, I'll be looking forward to the contest!

Posted by Westmorlandia on (November 18, 2013, 13:39 GMT)

He did pretty well in the last series or two, though his batting average in 2013, from 14 innings, is still only 39 - decent enough without being really strong, if he's being judged as a batsman. Averages aren't everything, but if the argument is that's he's effective regardless of technique, clearly runs matter.

Having not made the original Ashes squad for the last series (rightly or wrongly), it seems odd that one good series later he is being touted as a future Australian captain. Perhaps it says more about the other contenders than anything else.

He has a good attitude. He is an improving batsman. I don't recall many match-winning performances so far, though, and what happens if he has a bad series against England now? Will we again be reading articles about how his technique isn't up the demands of test cricket?

At the moment, he is a decent middle order player and he should be in the Aussie team. I don't think there's any reason to get much more excited than that.

Posted by Front-Foot-Sponge on (November 18, 2013, 13:29 GMT)

Is KP textbook? Murali? Lara? Bradman? Malinga? Are most all the newer ODI players? Agree with @cantbowlcantbat, technique is pointless if you don't make runs. I'm backing Smith, good all round cricketer and potential captain if he can cement his place in the side.

Posted by   on (November 18, 2013, 12:52 GMT)

2 years back , I saw something in Smith and instantly became his fan .Back then nobody really cared about him .But today , he has proved everyone what he can do and he has always made me proud of him <3 Go Smithy I'm with u !! <3 <3

Posted by 158notout on (November 18, 2013, 12:03 GMT)

As a neutral England fan I was very impressed watching Smith bat in the India series. It came as a shock when he was not initially selected for the Ashes tour of England. The fact that he came in only as injury cover for Clarke but ended up playing all 5 tests says a lot. Suddenly the "brittle" Aussie middle-order looked a lot stronger. Good man.

Posted by Mary_786 on (November 18, 2013, 11:16 GMT)

Smith will be our future captain

Posted by stormy16 on (November 18, 2013, 11:04 GMT)

When Aus first came out with Smith as a replacement for Warne I was wondering if this was some sort of a joke but then they reckoned Smith was a batter and it was no longer funny. Needless to say after seeing him against the Eng in 2011, I could not believe what had happened to Aus and if this was the best they could find. Smith kept popping up since then and I thought his outing in the IPL changed things for Smith. I think he showed what he is - a genuine alrounder with steady head - ok its T20 but in my mind I finally saw what Aus saw in Smith. His subsequent tours in India and Eng has left little doubt the guy has something to offer, all be it with a technique that at times resembles tennis, but that is Smith. He has a golden opportunity this summer to take the giant step. I am still not convinced as I feel his technique will catch up with him but don't think Smith got to where is today with his technique!

Posted by Mitty2 on (November 18, 2013, 10:49 GMT)

@scottstevo, I say technique, as in the 'textbook' technique, isn't everything in that confidence in your own style and temperament + mental strength are of more significance that having the right technique. I disagree with you on Watson having a good technique and he premeditates by lunging out his front foot every ball (he needs to widen his original stance) but even if he does, it's just a fact that his metal frailty means he's not a test class batsman. Same goes for Usman, everyone raves on about his technique but he averages under 30 because of the mental side. As Ian Chappell says, technique is simply what allows you to block the good balls and in Eng, Smith certainly did do that to the seamers except for a few LBW shouts and only for the most part got out to them when wafting outside off stump. He'll learn from that, none of the Eng pacers got on top of him despite him supposedly having an 'unorthdox' technique with his open stance. (cont)

Posted by ScottStevo on (November 18, 2013, 10:24 GMT)

@Mitty2, he's going to bat through this whole series at #5, so I'm desperate for him to do well, but I disagree, technique is everything, especially in test cricket. A sound technique is the base of any good batsman and I fear for Smith. He seems much better suited to attacking spin bowling than he does against fast bowling where his technique has unravelled on numerous occasions. You can see that he's worked hard on it as he's not as flashy. However, although he's made a few scores of note, we need a middle order that can consistantly make runs. For Smith, that means he needs to start making more of his starts and regularly produce, not just 40s but all the way through to tons. Also disagree with your analysis on Watson and Warner. Watson has a good technique, he gets done with the one nipping back, it's not premeditated if you play the line out of the hand - it seems more lazy than technical. Warner doesn't get across far enough and thrashes leading to slips practice.

Posted by   on (November 18, 2013, 10:16 GMT)

I first saw Smith when he was 16 at the suggestion of some of his junior teammates who I happened to be teaching at the time. He was opening the batting in First Grade for Sutherland with Phil Jaques (a certain Glenn McGrath also played in the same match). Smith was first and foremost a batsman then. It was a silly idea to try and turn him into a spinner. I first saw Phil Hughes a year earlier when my son was playing rep cricket at Bellingen on the north coast of NSW before we moved to Sydney. I would have to say that Smith was a better batsman then than Hughes and better liked by teammates and opposition as well!

Posted by TheBigBoodha on (November 18, 2013, 9:33 GMT)

We always bag the selectors, and rightly so in recent years (Doherty and Maxwell as the spinning team in IND? - that's what I call a brain freeze). But the decision to resurrect Steve Smith has been one of their successes (pending ongoing development). Let's face it, many people bagged his selection for India. I was one who said he should do well, and should be in the first test (simply because he is a good on his feet, and plays spin well). I wasn't too sure about his ability to play on harder surfaces, but he appears to be improving every year. Good on him.

Posted by jakep185 on (November 18, 2013, 8:48 GMT)

Great job steve smith! amazing our high school gets recognition, menai high is 100% behind you!!!

Posted by   on (November 18, 2013, 8:47 GMT)

I do love the action photos of Smith. He seems to be everywhere. Re Australian coaching: there is a point to be made that 'conventionalism' is a disease that afflicts many Aussie cricket coaches, including spinning coaches. Conventionalism and the dream ethic is stopping promising cricketing personalities such as Smith from evolving.

Posted by scarab666 on (November 18, 2013, 8:21 GMT)

Steve Smith is a future test player if he isn't already. He shows more potential than Warner or any other up and coming NSW players and deserves a fair go.

Posted by SamRoy on (November 18, 2013, 8:04 GMT)

The picture though shows a Genuine No. 9 Slogger :) Just kidding. Yes, he has improved quite a bit but still has a long way to go before we call him a solid batsman.

Posted by Mitty2 on (November 18, 2013, 8:00 GMT)

Good article and I have high hopes for him. His 90 odd in India has been his best test innings - on a massive turner where everyone else was failing before and around him, he came in and showed massive temperament and was intelligent in how he took the attack straight away to Ashwin and Ojha, much like KP did in Mohali. It was from that innings where I completely changed my view on him, with him showing superior abilities to all of the batsmen barring Clarke and maybe Cowan. He extended that form to Eng and despite a few good ones from Swann, was largely comfortable against the bowling and if he got out, it was because of his own looseness.I reckon he's in for a good series.

@cantbowlcantbat, Watson and Warner are both technically incorrect with both struggling with their front feet and premeditation, whilst Rogers, Smith and Hughes' techniques are unorthodox. Only Clarke/Khawaja have classical techniques - but Usman ain't up to it - he's mentally fragile. Technique isn't everything.

Posted by Beertjie on (November 18, 2013, 7:58 GMT)

The jury's still out on Smith, but hopefully not for much longer. A good home series with the bat and he'll become a banker (not many in this team, so that's not saying much).

Posted by   on (November 18, 2013, 7:58 GMT)

future of aussie cricket is more stable than the present--for 2019 wc--

1.warner 2.maddinson/doolan 3.watson/clarke 4.c lynn 5.steven smith(captain) 6.g maxwell 7.j faulkner 8.m wade(wk) 9. m starc 10.j pattinson 11.j bird/a mcdermott/or any spinner better than lyon

Posted by hotcric01 on (November 18, 2013, 7:26 GMT)

Still he is an ordinary batsman(for the test format) with an unusual style.But he is hard working.So he will come up as a better batsman in near future.

Posted by Cantbowlcantbat on (November 18, 2013, 6:57 GMT)

More worrying signs about Australia losing its way. It used to be that Australian batsmen were not sticklers for "correct" technique. Bradman was not technically pure, nor were a host of other top Australian batsmen such as Border, Gilchrist, Chappelli, Walters and Taylor. G. Chappell was the exception rather than the rule. Older Australian cricketers used to laugh at the English obsession with batting technique- now it seems to have infected Australian coaches. We probably have the technically best batting side we've ever had- but they can't score runs!

Posted by xtrafalgarx on (November 18, 2013, 6:48 GMT)

Smith has been written off by many, but he is so hard working, plays with lots of flair and lots of heart so much so that i think he is going to cut it and become a good player for Australia. Now if only Warner, Hughes, Khawaja can do the same.

Posted by   on (November 18, 2013, 5:51 GMT)

I don't like our practice of anointing a captain well in advance. It definitely hasn't worked well with Clarke, who's inadvertently done his best to tear the team apart and hurt its performance. Appoint the captain on merit, and on character, when the time comes. By all means give them captaincy experience at state level, so we have guys in the team who know how to do the job, but at this stage Smith is going to succeed Clarke unless he stuffs up enough to get dropped. And I don't know enough about him to know whether or not this is a good thing.

Posted by   on (November 18, 2013, 5:41 GMT)

He definitely shows promise but will need a lot of solid contributions around him to continue doing well one would think.

Posted by   on (November 18, 2013, 5:29 GMT)

Smith has been promising over the last few months and I hope he can keep it up in at number 5

Rogers (A given) Warner (Been in good form with several centuries in shield cricket recently) Watson (given) Clarke (given) Smith (in good form) Bailey (If he bats well, he is a no brainier. He's also a very smart cricketer) Haddin (I'd prefer someone like Tim Paine or Peter Nevill but that won't happen) Faulkner (in good bowling form and stellar batting form) Johnson (On the GABBA pitch at least) Siddle (a given) Harris (our best bowler)

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Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.

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Mohammad Isam: Aftab Ahmed could have been a superstar for Bangladesh, but he didn't have the desire and work ethic to follow through

    Test cricket's young Fab Four

Martin Crowe: Kohli, Root, Smith and Williamson will take turns as the No. 1 Test batsman. So far each has shown only one technical weakness

Analysing the unexplainable

Anantha Narayanan: Sequences as bad as, or worse than, India's five-innings streak of sub-200 scores

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India disgraced themselves by not competing

MS Dhoni and the BCCI are to blame for a touring party that became too comfortable and compliant

'I couldn't bring myself to set a batsman up by giving him runs'

Glenn McGrath talks about the method behind his metronomic consistency, visualisation, and why aggression isn't about sledging

Dhoni doesn't heed his own warning

Plays of the Day from the second ODI between England and India, in Cardiff

Test cricket's young Fab Four

Kohli, Root, Smith and Williamson will take turns as the No. 1 Test batsman. So far each has shown only one technical weakness

Errant elbows, and Priyanjan's shuffle

Plays of the day from the first ODI between Sri Lanka and Pakistan

News | Features Last 7 days