Australia’s stand-in captain Steve Smith is certainly making great strides in his International career having been chosen to captain his country for the remainder of the current Indian series, whilst producing some sparkling batting displays to establish himself as a firm favourite with the Australian supporters.
The lack of clarity around the future of Michael Clarke following surgery on his troublesome hamstring, has given Smith an opportunity which he could only have dreamed of when he made his debut against Pakistan back in 2010. Originally Smith was considered, wrongly, as a possible replacement for Shane Warne with his leg-spin but to Smith’s credit he has not let his mixed success in this department affect him as he has progressed his career remarkably during recent times.
Many would have struggled to come to terms with the high-profile failure of his leg-spin bowling in the brutal arena of International cricket, but not Smith.
He has knuckled down and developed his batting skills tremendously since his Test debut and is probably the most improved Test cricketer around at the moment. His recent run of form is nothing short of remarkable.
As skipper, despite carrying the added pressure of captaincy, he led Australia to victory in the second Test at Brisbane last week with a man-of-the-match display, scoring 133 in the first innings and a crucial 28 in the second, when chasing a tricky low-score for victory. This followed his first Test scores of 162 not out and 52 not out as Australia won by 48 runs in Adelaide.
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Prior to the current series Smith’s run is equally as impressive with international scores of 97, 10, 73*, 104 and 67. He will hope to continue this terrific form when Australia and India meet again in the third Test at the MCG on Boxing Day.
It could be said that Australia have been very brave with their appointment of Smith but I believe this is a huge step in the right direction for Australian cricket as they look to find a long-term replacement for Clarke and in doing so try to dominate world cricket once again.
They have not gone for safety first but instead have opted to blood the youngster. Smith fits the bill perfectly with his typical Australian bullish attitude, his preference to face adversity head-on and a batting technique which is based simply on bat hitting ball. He is not complicated, nor should he become complicated.
He is the fresh-face that international cricket needs at a time when many greats have, or are, retiring from the game. He, alongside the likes of India’s Virat Kohli and England’s Joe Root, can ensure the future of Test cricket is secured for many years to come.
Clearly Smith has a lot to learn in terms of his captaincy skills. However, he will be given time to develop and, even if Clarke does return to the national side, he is in the perfect position to take over the role permanently whilst learning the art of captaincy from Clarke himself. Steve Waugh was suitably impressed by Smith, early in his career, when he was quoted as saying that he believed he was the best talent to come out of Australia in the last twenty years. Those words now have a certain truth about them.