Steven Smith's all-round skills are so well honed that he's been asked to be the side's funny man in his first Ashes Test. In a strange request for a 21-year-old, Smith has been called to boost the morale of Australia's struggling outfit as well as provide runs at No.6 and wickets with his legspin.

"I've been told that I've got to come into the side and be fun," Smith said at the WACA. "For me, it's about having energy in the field and making sure I'm having fun and making sure everyone else around is having fun, whether it be telling a joke or something like that. It's to make sure we're all upbeat and we're ready to go. I think that's something I can bring to this side."

Smith has played only two Tests, as Nathan Hauritz's replacement against Pakistan in July, but has already shown Ricky Ponting and the team leaders that he is a star of the future. Young talent may not save this Ashes series for Australia, but it will help them in the medium to long term as they rebuild from their current slump.

The selectors finally dropped Marcus North after his stop-start run over the past two years and elevated Smith. The promotion to the top six came earlier than expected and he is not yet a master of either of his two specialist disciplines.

Ponting admires Smith's talent but indicated after the Pakistan series in July that his batting was not quite at the elite standard. After Australia's performances over the past two Tests, he is definitely worth a try, although making him the side's motivator seems an extra burden for someone so fresh.

What Smith is comfortable with is being a batting allrounder, after his first two Tests were spent as the lead spinner. He collected three wickets in those games and showed his power and raw technique with 77 in the second innings of the defeat to Pakistan.

"It's what I always wanted to do, play in the Australian side as a batsman," Smith said. "It's the pinnacle of Australian cricket, playing in an Ashes series. I can't wait to get out there and have a crack."

He will look to take on England's fast bowlers if they bounce him on what is expected to be a lively WACA pitch. Smith is quite small at 176cm, but has an aggressive approach that can make things exciting and hairy. With the ball, he will work with Michael Beer, the debutant left-arm spinner. As the team joker, it looks like he'll be on his own.