Steve Smith
Steve Smith Credits: Twitter

Australia coach Andrew McDonald hailed veteran Australian batter Steve Smith for his interest to be the new Test opener but he does not want to compromise one of the team’s strengths to fill a hole. With David Warner announcing his retirement following Australia’s victory at the SCG Test, the team is looking for a new opener in the longer format of the game.

Marcus Harris, Matt Renshaw, and Cameron Green have all been discussed for the opening spot, with Steve Smith emerging as a dark horse for the spot to replace David Warner in red-ball cricket.

Speaking to the media after the 3-0 series over Pakistan, Australia head coach Andrew McDonald stated that the team management would be assessing their options for the opening spot and praised Smith for putting his hand up to take the position. However, he believes that elevating him to the top of the order will disrupt the Australian batting lineup’s strengths.

“(Steve) had some strong thoughts, he’s made those public. So we’ll consider all options, It’s nice to have him putting his hand up. I think there were a few others that weren’t putting their hand up”. 

Andrew McDonald
Andrew McDonald Credits: Twitter

“But Steve at No.3 or No.4 is pretty appetising also. You’ve got to make sure you’re not removing the strengths of the team in the search to fill a gap also. So there’s a balance within that,” Andrew McDonald said.

When Steve Smith takes over the opening spot, Australia must also ensure that the middle order is well-manned as Cameron Green can come in the middle order given his multi-dimensional skillset in red-ball cricket. The Australian all-rounder is the most well-known example, as he was left out of Australia’s most recent match against Pakistan.

Promotion to the top could calm Steve Smith’s nerves since opponents would be less likely to come over the top against him. After his brief stint of unreliability in the middle order, he may be ready for a fresh challenge, which could bring out the best in him. Smith scored 929 runs in 13 Tests in 2023, averaging 42.23, which was much lower than his lifetime average of 57.99.

Steve Smith has never batted opened the batting in a Test match. Given the increased difficulties of dealing with the new ball, which has more swing and seam movement, the transition from No. 4 to opener will be significant and the Australian selector would be keen on finding a perfect replacement for him in red-ball cricket.