Australia in Sri Lanka 2011 July 26, 2011

Selectors make 'harsh' call on Steven Smith

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Australia's selectors have jettisoned the young allrounder Steven Smith for next month's Test series in Sri Lanka, after previously giving every indication they were intent on persevering with him.

Having played five Test matches with varying degrees of success since his debut against Pakistan at Lord's in 2010, Smith is now the latest victim of a cycle that has churned through 12 spin bowlers since Shane Warne retired in 2007.

Smith's place has been effectively taken by two players. One is Nathan Lyon, the gifted South Australian slow bowler who has played only four Sheffield Shield matches and is currently in the midst of his first ever pre-season with the Redbacks after being the break-out success of Australia A's tour of Zimbabwe.

The other is Shaun Marsh, the talented but not yet prolific West Australian who will compete with another left-hander, Usman Khawaja, for the spot in the Australian top seven that has been vacated by Smith.

Andrew Hilditch, the chairman of selectors who is widely expected to be removed from his post after the Argus Review tables its findings about the performance of the national team, argued that Smith had not made a spot his own.

"It's a very harsh call on Steven. He was very disappointed when I spoke to him, which I would expect," Hilditch said. "We really made an assessment, and as I spoke to Steve about, that we didn't think he'd cemented a spot in the top six batters and we didn't think he'd cemented a spot as a spinner.

"We really think the best thing for him, and Australian cricket, is that he [first] cements his position in the short forms of the game and plays some more Shield cricket, and gets better at both those skills. I think it's important that people realise that we're hardly moving away from him."

Hilditch went on to say the selection was specific to Sri Lankan conditions, which seemed highly odd given that Smith's skills and SCG upbringing seem to make him better suited to the subcontinent than anywhere else.

A batting technique best described as homespun is more likely to confound slow bowlers than fast ones, while Smith's bowling would have offered the squad greater flexibility. Now the vice-captain Shane Watson can expect to bowl long spells as the third seamer or the captain Michael Clarke to deliver more overs than he would like as the second spinner.

Lyon's selection is rightly touted as a happy tale, and one that harks back to less regimented times. But his preparation for the rigours of Test match bowling have been rudimentary, and he struggled with the physical demands of consecutive Shield matches late last summer.

"In an ideal world it would be nice if he'd played more Shield cricket, there's no doubt about that," said Hilditch. "But from our perspective we're very confident that he's ready. He's a very talented spin-bowler, he's had a meteoric rise. It was one of the great parts of my job to call him this morning and tell him he's got the opportunity to play for Australia.

"We've followed him closely coming through from limited-overs cricket. He then played very well in the Shield games but it was of course a very big learning curve for him as well. We took him to Zimbabwe and he was player of the series, albeit in the one-day series there. Really, the feedback we got from everyone there -- the selector on that tour and the coaching staff -- was that he really impressed as being ready to play international cricket."

"The reason he wasn't in the longer form of the game in Zimbabwe was simply that we thought Jason [Krejza] and Michael Beer deserved the first opportunity to impress ahead of Sri Lanka."

Krejza's omission maintains his topsy turvy run at the fringes of the national team. An apparent inability to drop into a consistent rhythm over long spells has counted significantly against him, but it remained surprising to hear that Krejza had managed to bowl himself from the top of Australia's Test slow bowling ranks to the bottom in the space of one brief tour to Zimbabwe.

Beer was victor in that duel, but Hilditch now painted a demanding picture of what would be required of him in Sri Lanka. Having never taken more than three wickets in a first-class innings, Beer will fly to the island nation as Australia's lead Test spin bowler, and if he does not thrive against skilful Sri Lankan batsmen on pitches of their choosing he will likely be thrown aside just as Smith and plenty of others have been.

"It'll be a very important tour for Michael Beer in particular," said Hilditch. "We thought he bowled well [in the fifth Ashes Test] without much luck, so you'd expect him to play in Sri Lanka in fairly good conditions but against high quality batters, so it'll be a big test for him but we think he's up to it.

"In the end all players are assessed on performance, everybody has to perform to play cricket for Australia. Obviously the hope is that they play really well and move on from there."

Among the batsmen, Marsh and Khawaja will now be counting down to Australia's lone warm-up match before the first Test, for it will be their one chance to dictate which of the two will seal a spot in Australia's batting order, most probably at No. 6. Marsh has the job ahead of him to prove that his talent can be allied to Test match concentration, so attractive starts become substantial innings. It is a quality Khawaja possesses, but in Zimbabwe his form deserted him and he is not known as a particularly adept player of spin.

"Shaun Marsh is someone we've identified for several years as someone we think can have an impact in international cricket," Hilditch said. "I think if you look carefully last year, he really did turn the corner as far as consistency of performance at Shield level. He got some really big scores and was really hampered by injuries at the most critical times, just before Ashes selection and just before World Cup selection.

"So we think he was ready last year and playing very well and scoring big runs for WA. I agree that's a stage that a lot of young batters need to make, where they go from being talented to actually nailing Shield cricket, and we thought Shaun had made real progress last year. If not for injury I think it would've been very different. He's worked very hard on those issues, you won't find anybody assessing him say anything other than he's a very talented player."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • markc_7 on July 29, 2011, 12:43 GMT

    Now Australian cricket has come down to this. A below average player like Steven Smith getting this much attention! If Aussies are now relying on bowlers like Michael Beer and Steven Smith to do it for them in the subcontinent, time has come for me to find a new passion other than cricket. Not playing Usman Khawaja in Srilanka, or for that matter any upcoming series, will be a massive mistake. The guy has talent, more talent and better average then any other young batsmen playing Sheffield Shield. Trust me, this tour looks like a disaster before it even started! G'luck!

  • ygkd on July 29, 2011, 0:43 GMT

    Watching Ferguson bat gives me the impression he can improve his average. Watching Smith bat gives me the impression his average is too high. Smith clearly has achieved more for his ability than the South Australian, but the question remains - can he continue to do it? And more-so, for he seems more often cold than hot with both bat and ball. I think it's a big ask and would back O'Keefe ahead of him as a bowling all-rounder. But only time will tell.

  • hyclass on July 28, 2011, 1:48 GMT

    I think this is a case of everyone being right.He was well chosen on a 1st class average of 56 that dropped to 42.He couldnt continue to be selected and was well dropped.His use at 6 was questionable.His story is very similar to Whites and to some extent,both are eye players without the quality of defensive game required to make ugly runs when out of form.He does have both batting and bowling chops,but not enough yet.Id like to see him make it.I think he has real talent.Id also prefer to see a batsman rather than an all rounder at 6.Sometimes,by splitting the difference,you get neither a batsman nor a bowler.Id like to David Hussey at 6.He has a peerless record and can shred an attack and has the intelligence and stamina to do it regularly.Khawaja has dropped his average from 53 to 45 since first being selected.He clearly has a problem outside off that needs to be worked on and isnt a recognised player of spin.Marsh had 2 good and 2 ordinary games last season and lacks mental stamina.

  • on July 28, 2011, 0:31 GMT

    My team for the first test would be...

    Marsh Watson Kwarja Ponting Hussey Clarke(c) Haddin(wkt) Johnson Harris Siddle Lyons

    I wouldn't play beer if Clarke is bowling some overs as they both bowl slow left arm. Lyons offers variety by bowling it the other way to Clarke. I would choose marsh ahead of Hughes as I find Hughes very inconsistent and against good bowling attacks he yew our looks circumspect. I find marsh's technique more compact and solid than Hughes.

  • one_of_the_elite_few on July 28, 2011, 0:23 GMT

    Smith is the right call and should have been done earlier, he is only 22 years old, has had some good exposure to international cricket and knows the level one must be at to perform at that level. There is no doubt that he will go back and do everything in his power to get back in the side, and i believe he is far better off concentrating on his leg spin bowling, there are very few of them compared to the 100's of middle order batsmen that can play the role better than Smith. I hope he is back in side in a couple of years taking wickets because he is talented.

  • Meety on July 27, 2011, 23:57 GMT

    @AJDoogs - re Smiths batting, he has 4 FC 100's & an ave of 42, that places him above Marsh & Ferguson! -- -- -- Smith is a long term investment, he's doing better than a lot of people give him credit for in the Short Formats, & I think all he needs is a bit more variety in his leggies, & a bit more appreciation of where his off stump is - & he WILL be a force in Test cricket. He should be on tour in SL - (not playing), but racking up the hours in the nets, batting & bowling.

  • AJDoogs on July 27, 2011, 19:51 GMT

    I think Smith has the potentential to be a bloody good leg spinner, he has the fundamentals he just needs the consistency and the guile. As for a batsman he should bat at 11 - he is bloody hopeless. The selectors should tell him to go back to shield cricket and become a specialist leg spinner.

  • stormy16 on July 27, 2011, 19:20 GMT

    I totally agree with Smiths call, he is not a specialist batsman or bowler. Sure he can do a bit of both but its never going to win you games unless your highly skilled in one as a minimum, and he is far from it. With Aus showing some big holes in the batting they cannot afford to carry Smith in the top 7 as he simply doesnt have the skills. I think Marsh and Kawaja are a fair bet and deserve the opportunity. One thing I will stay away from is using Watson as a bowler. Aus cannot afford to loose him and his injury history is not good and I would use him very sparingly as a bowler. You dont want Watson breaking down bowling in probably the toughest bowling conditions for a seamer.

  • popcorn on July 27, 2011, 18:33 GMT

    Discarding Steve Smith was the RIGHT Decision. He has been given sufficient opportunities - but he can't bat, nor can he bowl! Mark Waugh has watched Shaun Marsh play, and says he has good Test Cricket technique. So has Usman Khawaja.The latter is better suited at No.3 or 4. I think Australia should play to its strengths - which is fast bowling.Michell Johnson,Peter Siddle and Ryan Harris.Sane Watson is the fourth seamer.In the spin department, ONLY ONE out of Nathan Lyon or Michel Beer should be selected. My Test Team 11 selection - in batting order would be: Shane Watson, Philip Hughes, Ricky Ponting, Usman Khawaja, Michael Clarke (back to the Number 5 slot where he scored the most runs),Mike Hussey, Brad Haddin,Mitchell Johnson,Ryan Harris,Peter Siddle, Nathan Lyon or Michael Beer.

  • OzWally on July 27, 2011, 17:47 GMT

    Give joneys2 a break. I believe the 36 batting ave. was a bonus. Compare O'Keefe's FC bowling stats to Beer and Lyon's. O'Keefe 14 games 52 wickets @ 24. Beer - 13 games 31 @ 46 and Lyon 4 games 12 @ 43. Can we all just agree Hilditch is an idiot?

  • markc_7 on July 29, 2011, 12:43 GMT

    Now Australian cricket has come down to this. A below average player like Steven Smith getting this much attention! If Aussies are now relying on bowlers like Michael Beer and Steven Smith to do it for them in the subcontinent, time has come for me to find a new passion other than cricket. Not playing Usman Khawaja in Srilanka, or for that matter any upcoming series, will be a massive mistake. The guy has talent, more talent and better average then any other young batsmen playing Sheffield Shield. Trust me, this tour looks like a disaster before it even started! G'luck!

  • ygkd on July 29, 2011, 0:43 GMT

    Watching Ferguson bat gives me the impression he can improve his average. Watching Smith bat gives me the impression his average is too high. Smith clearly has achieved more for his ability than the South Australian, but the question remains - can he continue to do it? And more-so, for he seems more often cold than hot with both bat and ball. I think it's a big ask and would back O'Keefe ahead of him as a bowling all-rounder. But only time will tell.

  • hyclass on July 28, 2011, 1:48 GMT

    I think this is a case of everyone being right.He was well chosen on a 1st class average of 56 that dropped to 42.He couldnt continue to be selected and was well dropped.His use at 6 was questionable.His story is very similar to Whites and to some extent,both are eye players without the quality of defensive game required to make ugly runs when out of form.He does have both batting and bowling chops,but not enough yet.Id like to see him make it.I think he has real talent.Id also prefer to see a batsman rather than an all rounder at 6.Sometimes,by splitting the difference,you get neither a batsman nor a bowler.Id like to David Hussey at 6.He has a peerless record and can shred an attack and has the intelligence and stamina to do it regularly.Khawaja has dropped his average from 53 to 45 since first being selected.He clearly has a problem outside off that needs to be worked on and isnt a recognised player of spin.Marsh had 2 good and 2 ordinary games last season and lacks mental stamina.

  • on July 28, 2011, 0:31 GMT

    My team for the first test would be...

    Marsh Watson Kwarja Ponting Hussey Clarke(c) Haddin(wkt) Johnson Harris Siddle Lyons

    I wouldn't play beer if Clarke is bowling some overs as they both bowl slow left arm. Lyons offers variety by bowling it the other way to Clarke. I would choose marsh ahead of Hughes as I find Hughes very inconsistent and against good bowling attacks he yew our looks circumspect. I find marsh's technique more compact and solid than Hughes.

  • one_of_the_elite_few on July 28, 2011, 0:23 GMT

    Smith is the right call and should have been done earlier, he is only 22 years old, has had some good exposure to international cricket and knows the level one must be at to perform at that level. There is no doubt that he will go back and do everything in his power to get back in the side, and i believe he is far better off concentrating on his leg spin bowling, there are very few of them compared to the 100's of middle order batsmen that can play the role better than Smith. I hope he is back in side in a couple of years taking wickets because he is talented.

  • Meety on July 27, 2011, 23:57 GMT

    @AJDoogs - re Smiths batting, he has 4 FC 100's & an ave of 42, that places him above Marsh & Ferguson! -- -- -- Smith is a long term investment, he's doing better than a lot of people give him credit for in the Short Formats, & I think all he needs is a bit more variety in his leggies, & a bit more appreciation of where his off stump is - & he WILL be a force in Test cricket. He should be on tour in SL - (not playing), but racking up the hours in the nets, batting & bowling.

  • AJDoogs on July 27, 2011, 19:51 GMT

    I think Smith has the potentential to be a bloody good leg spinner, he has the fundamentals he just needs the consistency and the guile. As for a batsman he should bat at 11 - he is bloody hopeless. The selectors should tell him to go back to shield cricket and become a specialist leg spinner.

  • stormy16 on July 27, 2011, 19:20 GMT

    I totally agree with Smiths call, he is not a specialist batsman or bowler. Sure he can do a bit of both but its never going to win you games unless your highly skilled in one as a minimum, and he is far from it. With Aus showing some big holes in the batting they cannot afford to carry Smith in the top 7 as he simply doesnt have the skills. I think Marsh and Kawaja are a fair bet and deserve the opportunity. One thing I will stay away from is using Watson as a bowler. Aus cannot afford to loose him and his injury history is not good and I would use him very sparingly as a bowler. You dont want Watson breaking down bowling in probably the toughest bowling conditions for a seamer.

  • popcorn on July 27, 2011, 18:33 GMT

    Discarding Steve Smith was the RIGHT Decision. He has been given sufficient opportunities - but he can't bat, nor can he bowl! Mark Waugh has watched Shaun Marsh play, and says he has good Test Cricket technique. So has Usman Khawaja.The latter is better suited at No.3 or 4. I think Australia should play to its strengths - which is fast bowling.Michell Johnson,Peter Siddle and Ryan Harris.Sane Watson is the fourth seamer.In the spin department, ONLY ONE out of Nathan Lyon or Michel Beer should be selected. My Test Team 11 selection - in batting order would be: Shane Watson, Philip Hughes, Ricky Ponting, Usman Khawaja, Michael Clarke (back to the Number 5 slot where he scored the most runs),Mike Hussey, Brad Haddin,Mitchell Johnson,Ryan Harris,Peter Siddle, Nathan Lyon or Michael Beer.

  • OzWally on July 27, 2011, 17:47 GMT

    Give joneys2 a break. I believe the 36 batting ave. was a bonus. Compare O'Keefe's FC bowling stats to Beer and Lyon's. O'Keefe 14 games 52 wickets @ 24. Beer - 13 games 31 @ 46 and Lyon 4 games 12 @ 43. Can we all just agree Hilditch is an idiot?

  • Metman on July 27, 2011, 16:50 GMT

    People like Dimah 82,Kane Weston and Onphel....Very well said !Clearly, Smith is not ready yet !Anybody who knows anything about identifying talent would tell yu that !I'am a West Indian,and Smith reminds me of Anthony Martin of the WI,2 ordinary hyperactive individuals !

  • Qdzy on July 27, 2011, 16:22 GMT

    The Argus Review is Cricket Australia's chance to set things right. I hope they make use of it.

  • Ozcricketwriter on July 27, 2011, 15:05 GMT

    Mixed messages. One minute he is drafted into the team at number 6 to add spirit, the next moment he has to go back to shield cricket, after doing nothing wrong! I prefer to see Smith bat at number 8 and play as a bowler - he bats just as well but his bowling is improved. Yet another case of a player being used incorrectly then the selectors blaming the player for their own mistakes.

  • Guthers007 on July 27, 2011, 13:07 GMT

    SINCE WHEN DOES A BATTING AVERAGE OF 36 GET YOU AUTOMATIC SELECTION IN A TEST TEAM?

    36, GOOD LORD!!!

    WAKE-UP jonesy2!

  • MaxB on July 27, 2011, 12:38 GMT

    Not sure why everyone beats up the Australian selectors. Yes, they're churning through spin bowlers, but what's the solution? Either they offer people an extended chance, or give others a go until someone emerges who's good enough to succeed. It's not the selectors' fault that they don't have better plaers to pick.

  • mattboosa on July 27, 2011, 11:19 GMT

    A good call from Hilditch at last! Smith does have to go back to shield cricket and take wickets. If smith was to stay in the team he should have been at 8 with a recognised batsmen at 6. Katich would have been the perfect fall guy if Smith's spin failed. Oh well! He should never have been at 6. It will be exciting to see Marsh at 6. Over football- bring on some test cricket!

  • icebreak on July 27, 2011, 8:48 GMT

    Australia is never going to be a force if Selectors don't give players time to settle in. Shane Warne wasn't an overnight success, neither will other players if you don't give them time...

  • on July 27, 2011, 8:27 GMT

    Ola Smithsu...............!

  • ragomsk on July 27, 2011, 8:22 GMT

    Any one else getting the impression that Hilditch is grabbing at straws?

  • on July 27, 2011, 8:15 GMT

    I tend to agree with alot of people . Not Steve Smiths fault however. He was given an opportunity well before he had actually earned it , had his ability boomed up well beyond bursting point . He is great in the field but what about the other stuff !!!! Agricultural is an understatement - and you couldnt be honest that his last innings against England was anything short of terrible . Slogger yes , Test Cricketer no way at this time . Ask the Pom's they will tell you , they still cant get over winning the T20 world cup with " pup " walking out to bat they knew they had that game won !!!!! Just maybe the width of the broom that is currently sweeping is doing a very good job and the "Worm will turn " .

  • dirtydozen on July 27, 2011, 8:03 GMT

    why is hauritz not selected

  • johnathonjosephs on July 27, 2011, 7:46 GMT

    Australians have been toying with Smith since he showed his seriousness for the other formats other than T20. In the WC, it was insulting, but they didn't even let Smith bowl, only used him for batting. Krejza was preferred instead of him, what a joke

  • on July 27, 2011, 7:12 GMT

    How is it harsh to drop someone who has not been performing well??

  • humza_cricketer on July 27, 2011, 7:05 GMT

    Hilditch ... u r a joke ! You said that cricket Australia is going to develop a team for the future.. and thats why CA didn't give a contract to Simon Katich.. Then why is Ricky Ponting in the squad !! Ponting is couple of years older than Katich as well. Smith is the future of Australian cricket team ... u can't replace his position by lyon or beer. They need to develop future players by giving them a chance to play international match rather than a sheffield shield match !

  • anver777 on July 27, 2011, 6:52 GMT

    Leaving out Smith is bit confusing for me.......after a promising start to his career & as an experienced spinner comparing to other current Aus spinners, he's better who can bat low order, he should have been included for SL tour.........can't understand Aus selector's logic !!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Rowayton on July 27, 2011, 6:29 GMT

    Being an allrounder is all very well, but to be a test allrounder you can't be a bits and pieces player, you have to be good enough to be picked as either a batsman or a bowler, or very occasionally as both. I don't think Smith is good enough as either yet - although the Aussie selectors could be forgiven for thinking so - he did get four 100s in a Sheffield Shield season. Which makes you wonder how strong the SS is. Mind you, I haven't seen any indication that Beer is likely to take a swag of wickets any time soon.

  • Dilmah82 on July 27, 2011, 5:42 GMT

    About time he was dropped. Not sure why the selectors kept putting him on a pedastal to begin with. He has some talent with the bat but bowling is mediocre at this stage. No way he could have been consider a speciaist in any position or even an all-rounder in the Test side. Unlike the shorter formats Test cricket exposes and separates the ordinary players!

  • jonesy2 on July 27, 2011, 4:58 GMT

    the more i look at steve o'keefe's profile the more i cant believe he isnt on the plane to sri lanka. 14 FC games, 52 wickets at an av of 24 not to mention a batting average of 36 and a 7 wicket haul against sri lanka A a year or so ago. seriously dont undertand whats going on.

  • sando_35 on July 27, 2011, 4:24 GMT

    At risk of reigniting the debate, we wouldn't have to worry about any 2nd spin option if Katich was in the squad......

  • RightArmEverything on July 27, 2011, 3:15 GMT

    Hilditch and possibly the other selectors should be ashamed of themselves for putting Smith in the position where so much was expected of him. A new player, expected to not only become Australia's next legspinner but on top of that, to fill an allrounder slot in the top 6. Then to say he didn't cement his place in 5 tests is just ridiculous. Not many players have done that. Get Shane Warne on the selection panel, or someone else who has some sense.

  • on July 27, 2011, 3:14 GMT

    Harsh you are kidding you have to be, harsh would be to continue with him, harsh would be for the Australian Cricket Public to have to watch him not score runs not take wickets, once players had to prove they were up to it before getting a chance Smith should count himself lucky he got to play while the selectors were picking players just because there young. Smith has done nothing for the test squad added nothing to the test squad and really hasn't done much to be in the One day side to be honest.

  • on July 27, 2011, 2:03 GMT

    Why isn't krejza in the side? it just does not compute.

  • smudgeon on July 27, 2011, 1:44 GMT

    I'm just surprised he isn't in the squad simply as a part-time spin option. Maybe they're thinking that they already have a couple of specialists, so an extra spinner would be unneccessary. I really hope Beer & Lyon are persistent & not easily perturbed, it's going to be a tough tour for them both bowling to some of the best players of spin...maybe it's best for Smith's ongoing development and confidence that he isn't going. Anyways, I'm sure he's still very much a part of the long-term plans for Australian cricket - depending on how he develops, of course.

  • Slobberdog on July 27, 2011, 1:14 GMT

    Hilditch, man of contradictions. He finally recognises that Smith should've done his apprenticeship at Shield level before earning a place in the test team, something half Australia could've told him from day one. Now here he is throwing two more guys, Lyon and Beer, off the deep end before either has proven himself at first class level. If you can't bowl out Shield teams, how the hell can you be expected to bowl out top-tier test sides? Why does Australia keep hamstringing itself? Katich anyone?

  • AndrewFromOz on July 27, 2011, 1:02 GMT

    Counting the days until Andrew Hilditch is fired. If it doesn't happen then I just give up.

  • xenon555 on July 27, 2011, 0:33 GMT

    I would've kept Smith but moved him to number 8 in the batting line up. It's not as harsh as dropping Katich but Smith is the 2nd best spinner in Australia today (Hauritz the best). Beer will probably not find much success against Dilshan, Sanga, and Mahela but then again it's pretty obvious that Mitchell Johnson and Ryan Harris will do all of the heavy lifting in the bowling department.

  • onphel1 on July 27, 2011, 0:13 GMT

    That is one of the best decisions yet by CA. It was an embarrassment to have Steve Smith included in the national team, especially in the test team. He really should be playing the Shield Cricket and become a good player. He is not even a mediocre player, let alone a good player, therefore shouldn't be picked to play for Australia yet. Another player who should not play test cricket for Australia yet is DAVID WARNER. Maybe in 4 years time. Just remember Mathew Hayden, he was picked in the early 90s and then wasn't picked until the series against India in 2001. Rest is history. Warner would have to earn the place rightly and fairly.

  • Guthers007 on July 26, 2011, 23:52 GMT

    Smith should never have been in the Test side in the first place, he has the worst technique I have ever seen in any test side! At his selection, we had Mr Hilditch spin us another tale along the same lines as the one he is spinning us now. I really don't think he knows what hes is doing. I can't wait for the next edition of Hansel and Gretel!!

  • Meety on July 26, 2011, 23:34 GMT

    @Exfactor44 - the thing I do like about Smith's bowling his that he has fairly good length & lines - the problem exists at the moment is that he is less lateral in turn than Kumble. Kumble got away with not really spinning the ball because he bowled around 100kph & had a top spinner. I don't remember Smith bowling anything other than a straight leg break & a few wobbly flippers. When he develops some variety - he will improve immensely. As for his batting - I think he can improve, but that will take time in the Shield comp. I would definately have taken him on the tour as the season hasn't started in Oz, so he could bowl in the nets in SL.

  • MinusZero on July 26, 2011, 23:19 GMT

    Smith had never done enough to cement his spot in the team. He is lucky to have lasted as long as he did. His batting ave is only 28 and in 62 overs only had 3 wickets. The right call was made for a change by the selectors.

  • on July 26, 2011, 22:36 GMT

    It's not harsh at all to drop Smith. He does not have the consistent results to warrant a place in the team. The best thing for Smith will be to play the whole season for NSW, because then we will see if he is a sook or if he is willing to improve to get back near the team. Where is O'Keefe anyway!

  • Mervo on July 26, 2011, 21:32 GMT

    This guy is not ready! Her cant bowl and can't bat! In two or three year after solid compelling Shield performances maybe .... in the mean time don't further ruin his technique (he has almost none) in "big bash".

  • RohanMarkJay on July 26, 2011, 21:30 GMT

    Good luck to the Sri Lankan team. Should do very well with home advantage. Great opportunity for Sri Lanka. This is the best chance for Sri Lanka to beat the Aussies.

  • on July 26, 2011, 18:02 GMT

    Good to see Australia have picked as their front line spinner a man who has taken as many five-fors in first class cricket as I have.

  • Winsome on July 26, 2011, 17:35 GMT

    Shaun Marsh was fit and in fine form before the Perth Ashes test match last year, he was one of the main names talked about to take Katich and North's spot as they were out. They obviously didn't think he was ready and decided to go with Smith and Hughes. I can't wait till Hilditch goes so we don't have to listen to his endless fairy tales justifying his own existence.

  • Exfactor44 on July 26, 2011, 17:30 GMT

    Sounds like another panic selection to be honest. Hilditch also contradicts himself, on one side he is saying it is important for Shaun Marsh to progress beyond being talented to being good in Sheffield Shield whilst on the total opposite side he is taking a talented player who hasn't made that transition and is selecting them for international duties. Usually what follows from a meteoric rise is quite a hard fall.

    All Smith needs is a bit of sensible batting coaching and long-session net practice to work on a bit of discipline in his batting and then he would be more than capable of averaging 10 runs more. His bowling as it exists isn't too bad either, slight change of length and a couple of tweaks and it'll be great.

    Cricket Australia are still living in the past: when you don't have immediate player quality to draw on you need to make some. For the sake of a bit of focused practice and coaching they are stringing off a really not so bad all-rounder.

  • on July 26, 2011, 16:43 GMT

    Beer will flop in Sri lanka. It is funny a half spinner like him is taken to Meccah of slow bowling, even a kid on streets of Lanka would be a better bowler than what Aussies have on their team

  • wix99 on July 26, 2011, 14:30 GMT

    I don't think it is a harsh call at all for Steven Smith. He is still young and has plenty of time to work on his game and get back into the Test side if he can prove himself. I don't think he had done enough with the bat to hold the No. 6 position and likewise his spin bowling wasn't good enough to claim a place in the team.

  • kickittome70 on July 26, 2011, 14:15 GMT

    I dont think it's harsh at all. THis bloke is born to bat a 7 or 8, field at point and bowl a bit IN AN ODI. He just isnt up to playing test cricket YET. Best fielder Ive seen since Mark Waugh in aussie colours. You see the New South Wales media cheer squad shouted from the newssatnds to get him in the side, then he pretty much flopped 28 with the bat and an eye wateringly bad 73 with the ball. Even the most arrogant rooosters strutting around Sydney harbour couldnt defend that. Though he would be a great tactical 12th man like Roger Harper due to his phenomenal fielding qualities,

  • Truemans_Ghost on July 26, 2011, 14:00 GMT

    Whilst I am offering my unsolicted and probably unwanted views on aussie spinners, at least they have got off the pot with Steve Smith. Either he is good enough to play international cricket as a spinning alrounder- in which case give him a bowl when he is picked , or don't pick him. I just couldn't make out why he was being selected, batting down the order then hardly given a bowl as a kind od specialist number 7. I don't have a view as to whether he is/may one day be good eneough, but either pick him and trust him or don't pick him at all.

  • indianpunter on July 26, 2011, 13:50 GMT

    steven smith is a joke for a test cricketer. Maybe his presence in the team was due to his "extra curricular" skills.

  • highveldhillbilly on July 26, 2011, 13:36 GMT

    Smith is rubbish. the Mark Ealham of modern day Aus team. Or maybe just the new C White?

  • ygkd on July 26, 2011, 12:52 GMT

    "Homespun" is one way to describe the shot in the picture above.

  • TeamRocker on July 26, 2011, 12:32 GMT

    What does he mean, harsh? There was no other choice!

  • on July 26, 2011, 12:31 GMT

    So when will Katich be called up?

  • on July 26, 2011, 12:24 GMT

    When are they going to realise that they aren't going to uncover a new Shane Warne? Players of his quality just don't come along very often.

  • morethan20-20 on July 26, 2011, 11:47 GMT

    Mr Hilditch, you have just proven you are as skilled at selecting and media excuses as you were at resisting a bouncer trap. For the record, Im not a big fan of S.Smith, but the late great T Jenner said that if you want S.Smith to be The leg spinner, then keep him away from the shorter forms until he has the test bowling action as his baseline. Long live The Kat and his honesty....we have monkeys.

  • map27871 on July 26, 2011, 11:17 GMT

    Steven Smith getting dropped is an absolute joke.I believe this guy is a champion in the making.They keep hughes on after plenty of chances now and he seems not to be improving enough for mine(even though I hoped he would).He still could but my point is persevere with hughes why not smith?The rest I'm pretty happy with.We definitely need to find new blood,

  • VivGilchrist on July 26, 2011, 11:07 GMT

    No big deal. He played a few Tests before he was ready. If he is any good he'll perform in the Shield and force his way in. Beers selection I do not understand and OKeefe should move to New Zealand to further his Test career as our selectors refuse to pick him.

  • Wozza-CY on July 26, 2011, 10:39 GMT

    Reading comments that Hilditch makes is as entertaining as it is confounding. I really think he's got ODI & test matches confused. One goes for 100 overs & the other goes for five days....oh, no point going into now!

  • jr1972 on July 26, 2011, 10:24 GMT

    Dropping Smith is "harsh." Really! In that case turfing Hilditch out on his ear would be extremely harsh. The Argus review should be an interesting read and I bet it has a better grasp of the English language and team selection than Mr. Hilditch.

  • Herath-UK on July 26, 2011, 10:08 GMT

    I agree with the selectors,he has not shown any potential in the opportunities given to him which I think was a long run. Ranil Herath -Kent

  • chandau on July 26, 2011, 10:07 GMT

    Seriously these Auzzy selectors would not know a diamond if u hit them on the head with it. Anyone who has seen SS would say he is neither a good bowler nor a batter; yes he is a good fielder though. It is not easy to develop classy spinners. look at India Sri Lanka and Pakistan (ok bangladesh also) ; how many good spinners do they have at the moment ? Except for Ajantha Mendis the others are ok but not fantastic. Even Baaji is going thru a bad spell and the others have done ok in ODIs. After Kaneria cant think of anyone who did much but then that is Paki cricket :) Point 1 to Auzzy peeps: Shane Warne is RETIRED. There will be no other like him in ur lifetime. The faster u realize this the easier the selection process will be. Point 2 : Eat a little humble pie and recall ROY - the man can still do more than what Smith and all the others that come and go thru the revolving door put together. Point 3. R U CRAZY to blood a young spinner in the sub continent?

  • vijujack on July 26, 2011, 10:02 GMT

    Only Hilditch knows what he is doing - apparently he isn't satisfied with overseeing the decline of the OZ team and wants to see through the demise. Why cant he be thrown and ler Chappel set things right??

  • Finn92 on July 26, 2011, 9:42 GMT

    Smith is so overrated, good enough for the top six? Please, Stuart Broad is ten times better than him. His legspin is nothing better than any part timers. He can be useful in limited overs but I can't see him being a good enough spinner or batsman for the Test side.

  • Beertjie on July 26, 2011, 9:10 GMT

    I've long been waiting for news that Hilditch was to "be removed from his post after the Argus Review tables its findings about the performance of the national team." However, he speaks a lot of sense in this report. I agree "that Smith had not made a spot his own" and I am hopeful that like the great Benaud in the early part of his career (1952-1957) he will learn the skills that will enable him to become a genuine all-rounder (or perhaps not!). There is no point in taking him to South Africa either. An rival for this position may be O'Keefe and one hopes he is given opportunities when he's in form and not when the barrel is being scraped.

  • on July 26, 2011, 9:08 GMT

    My god, Australian cricket really is in tatters right now. Reminds me so much of the revolving door policy England used during the 90's......that took them to the bottom of the pile and I can see the same thing happening to Australia!

  • Okakaboka on July 26, 2011, 9:02 GMT

    Good one! This article is so far off the mark. Smith has had heaps of chances and failed miserably....Pity Andrew McDonald didn't get as many chances.... He may have developed into as good a bat as Watson.....and guess what?...He IS a better bowler. He seams the ball more than Smith spins it! well...almost. Sarcasm aside, Smith was well over due to be dropped. He really is just a grade cricket batsman who bowls okay. Next time, an article on how ripped off Katich, Paine or Finch were would be more appropriate. So the test team is still without a wicket keeper. No...Haddin doesn't keep wickets...he just tries to.....We need a long stop.

  • jonesy2 on July 26, 2011, 8:59 GMT

    smith has to decide to become an elite leg spinner and have a dominant season of sheffield shield wickets before he can hope for a spot in the test team.

  • D-Train on July 26, 2011, 8:55 GMT

    He's still very young. At the moment he's the jack of all trades, but the master of nothing. I think the best thing for him is to stay away from the international area and focus on perfecting his craft at first class level.

  • rohannrao on July 26, 2011, 8:34 GMT

    It is the right decision to keep such players away from the squad.It is not a harsh call at all.He is not good in any field except fielding.He is not a good batsman nor a good bowler.Nathan lyon is a better option to have in the squad.

  • Winsome on July 26, 2011, 8:33 GMT

    Good call. That boy needs to tighten up his technique before getting back in the team.

  • on July 26, 2011, 8:23 GMT

    BTW why shouldn't David Hussey be considered for the No. 6 spot? FC average over 50 and tons of runs with years of experience! Handy off-spin - equal to Smith if not better! It would be a no-brainer! Just because he's from Vic? I'm really starting to get a feel Vics are being ignored a bit too much here..Hodge, Ronnie, Finch & David..

  • Meety on July 26, 2011, 7:43 GMT

    Man the more Hilditch talks - the more contradictions! Smith would of been a better bet in SL than in Oz & didn't bowl badly (better than Krezja) in the world cup. Anyways not selecting Smith is not a major drama has he hasn't "performed". I would say neither has Beer, as the 6 wicket haul he got was a 2-Day match - not 1st class. I am happy for Lyon & really rate him - however he didn't play the 1st class games in Zim - so couldn't be compared to Krezja & Beer, coupled with the comment that he struggled with back to back shield matches, you would think they'd give him some game time in Zim. I agree that Marsh played well in his sporadic appearances last season - BUT Ferguson scored 260 runs against Zim from 3 innings! Anyways the pace bowling was pretty much spot on & the batting order 1 to 5 looks good. I think Oz better go with 4 pacers, because I think Lyon is not going to play. Funny if Beer comes out & takes bagfuls of wickets - not holding my breathe!

  • on July 26, 2011, 7:27 GMT

    Nah, IMO Smithy's the most over-rated bloke in the country! Maybe good for the T20 circus but surely not tests..Why not Ronnie McDonald? Or Socky? Or even North would do better than Smith..

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  • on July 26, 2011, 7:27 GMT

    Nah, IMO Smithy's the most over-rated bloke in the country! Maybe good for the T20 circus but surely not tests..Why not Ronnie McDonald? Or Socky? Or even North would do better than Smith..

  • Meety on July 26, 2011, 7:43 GMT

    Man the more Hilditch talks - the more contradictions! Smith would of been a better bet in SL than in Oz & didn't bowl badly (better than Krezja) in the world cup. Anyways not selecting Smith is not a major drama has he hasn't "performed". I would say neither has Beer, as the 6 wicket haul he got was a 2-Day match - not 1st class. I am happy for Lyon & really rate him - however he didn't play the 1st class games in Zim - so couldn't be compared to Krezja & Beer, coupled with the comment that he struggled with back to back shield matches, you would think they'd give him some game time in Zim. I agree that Marsh played well in his sporadic appearances last season - BUT Ferguson scored 260 runs against Zim from 3 innings! Anyways the pace bowling was pretty much spot on & the batting order 1 to 5 looks good. I think Oz better go with 4 pacers, because I think Lyon is not going to play. Funny if Beer comes out & takes bagfuls of wickets - not holding my breathe!

  • on July 26, 2011, 8:23 GMT

    BTW why shouldn't David Hussey be considered for the No. 6 spot? FC average over 50 and tons of runs with years of experience! Handy off-spin - equal to Smith if not better! It would be a no-brainer! Just because he's from Vic? I'm really starting to get a feel Vics are being ignored a bit too much here..Hodge, Ronnie, Finch & David..

  • Winsome on July 26, 2011, 8:33 GMT

    Good call. That boy needs to tighten up his technique before getting back in the team.

  • rohannrao on July 26, 2011, 8:34 GMT

    It is the right decision to keep such players away from the squad.It is not a harsh call at all.He is not good in any field except fielding.He is not a good batsman nor a good bowler.Nathan lyon is a better option to have in the squad.

  • D-Train on July 26, 2011, 8:55 GMT

    He's still very young. At the moment he's the jack of all trades, but the master of nothing. I think the best thing for him is to stay away from the international area and focus on perfecting his craft at first class level.

  • jonesy2 on July 26, 2011, 8:59 GMT

    smith has to decide to become an elite leg spinner and have a dominant season of sheffield shield wickets before he can hope for a spot in the test team.

  • Okakaboka on July 26, 2011, 9:02 GMT

    Good one! This article is so far off the mark. Smith has had heaps of chances and failed miserably....Pity Andrew McDonald didn't get as many chances.... He may have developed into as good a bat as Watson.....and guess what?...He IS a better bowler. He seams the ball more than Smith spins it! well...almost. Sarcasm aside, Smith was well over due to be dropped. He really is just a grade cricket batsman who bowls okay. Next time, an article on how ripped off Katich, Paine or Finch were would be more appropriate. So the test team is still without a wicket keeper. No...Haddin doesn't keep wickets...he just tries to.....We need a long stop.

  • on July 26, 2011, 9:08 GMT

    My god, Australian cricket really is in tatters right now. Reminds me so much of the revolving door policy England used during the 90's......that took them to the bottom of the pile and I can see the same thing happening to Australia!

  • Beertjie on July 26, 2011, 9:10 GMT

    I've long been waiting for news that Hilditch was to "be removed from his post after the Argus Review tables its findings about the performance of the national team." However, he speaks a lot of sense in this report. I agree "that Smith had not made a spot his own" and I am hopeful that like the great Benaud in the early part of his career (1952-1957) he will learn the skills that will enable him to become a genuine all-rounder (or perhaps not!). There is no point in taking him to South Africa either. An rival for this position may be O'Keefe and one hopes he is given opportunities when he's in form and not when the barrel is being scraped.