Tim Paine: Opposition Teams Welcome Steven Smith as Opener

Tim Paine: Opposition Teams Welcome Steven Smith as Opener

Former Australian captain Tim Paine believes that opposition teams will be delighted to see Steven Smith continue opening the batting, despite his underwhelming start in the role. However, Paine does not anticipate any changes to the batting order for the upcoming India series.

Paine remains optimistic about Smith’s ability to succeed as an opener, despite his struggles in New Zealand, where he managed only 51 runs at an average of 12.75. However, he acknowledges that Smith’s new position may not instill the same level of fear in bowlers.

“If I was playing against Australia, I would want Steve Smith to open the batting,” Paine said. “I want my best bowlers at their freshest with a brand new ball. When he was at his best batting at four, you just felt he couldn’t get out.”

Smith’s promotion to the top of the order has allowed Cameron Green to return to his preferred position at No. 4, where he impressed with an unbeaten 174 in the first Test at Wellington.

Head coach Andrew McDonald has defended Smith’s early returns, arguing that it is unfair to judge him based on just four Tests. Australia’s next Test assignment will be against India in late November, who could potentially field a formidable pace attack featuring Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, and Mohammed Siraj.

“I don’t think anything changes,” Paine said of Australia’s batting order. “Smith has earned the right to bat wherever he wants. If he is driven enough to be Australia’s Test opener, I think he’ll make it work.”

Ponting on Smith's T20 World Cup Chances and Australia's Captaincy

Ponting on Smith’s T20 World Cup Chances and Australia’s Captaincy

Ricky Ponting Weighs In on Steve Smith’s T20 World Cup Prospects and Australia’s Captaincy

ICC Hall of Famer Ricky Ponting has offered his insights on the potential inclusion of Steve Smith in Australia’s squad for the upcoming ICC Men’s T20 World Cup. Ponting also shared his views on who he believes should lead the team in the shortest format.

Speaking on The ICC Review, Ponting acknowledged Smith’s limited T20I appearances but highlighted his experience as a valuable asset for Australia. “You love having guys like him around because of the experience and the calming influence that you can have around a team during a World Cup,” Ponting said.

However, Ponting suggested that Smith might not secure a spot in the starting XI due to the team’s batting combinations. “But the other thing you always have to be mindful of is what role can he play? So I would think if Steve Smith does find his way into the squad, I don’t think he will be in the starting XI,” Ponting added.

On the topic of Australia’s T20 captaincy, Ponting expressed his support for all-rounder Mitchell Marsh. “I think he will (be T20I captain) and I think he deserves it as well as he has matured a lot as a player,” Ponting declared. “He’s certainly a leader of men…Leadership has always been in the back of the selectors’ minds as far as Mitchell Marsh is concerned.”

Ponting’s comments shed light on the strategic decisions facing Australia ahead of the T20 World Cup. Smith’s potential inclusion and Marsh’s captaincy candidacy are crucial considerations for the team’s success in the tournament.

Southee's Captaincy in Doubt as New Zealand's Australia Woes Continue

Southee’s Captaincy in Doubt as New Zealand’s Australia Woes Continue

Tim Southee’s captaincy and New Zealand’s winless streak against Australia were under scrutiny after a heartbreaking three-wicket loss in Christchurch. Southee admitted that his position as captain is vulnerable, especially considering the team’s upcoming tour to the subcontinent.

Southee’s form has been a concern, with the pacer taking only four wickets in the series. He acknowledged that the team’s spin-friendly conditions in Asia could lead to a change in the side’s composition.

Southee’s captaincy decisions were also questioned, particularly his reluctance to introduce spinner Glenn Phillips earlier in the fourth day. Phillips had dismissed both Alex Carey and Mitchell Marsh in the series, but Southee opted to stick with pace bowlers.

The selection of Scott Kuggeleijn, who bowled only three overs in the second innings, was also criticized. However, Southee defended Kuggeleijn’s inclusion, citing his valuable batting contribution.

Southee refused to blame fielding errors for the loss, despite several critical drops. He also denied that the team had a mental block against Australia, but acknowledged that they had struggled in crunch moments.

The loss extended New Zealand’s 13-year winless streak in Tests against Australia and their 31-year drought at home against their neighbor. Southee expressed disappointment but remained optimistic about the team’s future.

Labuschagne's Form Under Scrutiny as Australia's Batting Faces Pressure

Labuschagne’s Form Under Scrutiny as Australia’s Batting Faces Pressure

Despite Australia’s victory in the second Test against New Zealand, concerns linger over the team’s batting performance. Marnus Labuschagne, once a cornerstone of the batting order, has endured a lean run of form, raising questions about his place in the side.

Labuschagne’s recent struggles have seen his Test average drop below 50, a significant decline from his peak of over 60 in December 2022. However, captain Pat Cummins remains adamant that Labuschagne’s position is secure.

“Absolutely not,” Cummins said when asked if Labuschagne was under pressure. “I think he’d be the first to admit he’d like to score some more runs. But it’s not through lack of trying in the nets.”

Cummins emphasized that the team believes in Labuschagne’s ability and that his struggles are temporary. “We’re very clear that these six guys are the six best batters in Australia,” he said.

While Labuschagne’s form has been a concern, the entire batting group has come under scrutiny. Australia’s second innings collapse in Wellington, where they were bowled out for just 164, highlighted the need for improvement.

Coach Andrew McDonald acknowledged the need for the batters to perform collectively. “We want the top six, seven batters to be performing as a collective,” he said. “So I think while the rest are performing around that and you’re winning games of cricket, I think the concern levels are fractionally lower.”

McDonald also expressed concerns about Alex Carey’s dismissals in Wellington, where he holed out to cover twice. “They’re going on at the moment,” McDonald said. “He’s disappointed with that as a method to Glenn Phillips.”

Overall, McDonald believes the batting group can improve, particularly in the third innings of matches. “We feel like we can be better,” he said. “We feel as though at times we have underachieved with the bat which has left games open.”

Cummins echoed McDonald’s sentiments, calling for the batters to be more ruthless. “I think it’s something we can get better at, the whole 11 batters, particularly around that third innings where the game seems to speed up a little bit,” he said.

Wagner Recall Possible for New Zealand in Christchurch Test

Wagner Recall Possible for New Zealand in Christchurch Test

New Zealand’s Test captain Tim Southee has hinted at the possibility of recalling veteran fast bowler Neil Wagner for the second Test against Australia in Christchurch. The move comes after Will O’Rourke suffered a hamstring injury during the first Test in Wellington.

O’Rourke left the field during the third day of the match with tightness in his left hamstring. He did not return to the field for the remainder of Australia’s second innings, but he did bat on day four and was able to run between the wickets.

Southee admitted that New Zealand may have made a mistake in their selection for the first Test, opting for four fast bowlers on a pitch that offered more spin than expected. Hagley Oval in Christchurch, the venue for the second Test, is traditionally more favorable for pace bowling.

If O’Rourke is ruled out, New Zealand do not have a fourth seamer in their squad. Wagner retired from international cricket after being told he would not be selected for the Australia series. However, with New Zealand trailing 1-0 in the series, Southee did not rule out the possibility of recalling Wagner.

“We haven’t had a lot of discussions as yet,” Southee said. “We’ll see how Will scrubs up. The physio hasn’t sort of put a timeframe on it or how bad it is. We’ll just wait and see how Will goes over the next couple of days. I’m sure there’ll be an update in the next 24 hours.”

Southee ruled out the possibility of recalling Trent Boult, who has been playing only T20 cricket in recent times. He also defended the performance of Scott Kuggeleijn, who took two wickets in the first innings but conceded 75 runs in 20 overs.

Southee identified Cameron Green’s 174 not out and his 116-run 10th-wicket stand with Josh Hazlewood on the second morning as the turning point in the match. He conceded that New Zealand’s strategy against Green was flawed.

“I think we probably could have tried to get Green out on that second morning,” he said. “I think the way he played that that night before, we thought he was probably going to come out and play some shots. But we probably could look to get him out and on that second morning and make things slightly easier than what we did.”

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