Australia Steve Smith as opener for Adelaide Test over specialist

Australia Cricket News, Cameron Green, Matt Renshaw and Scott Boland also in squad for West Indies series with Smith replacing David Warner at top of order

Jan 10, 2024 - 02:09
Jan 10, 2024 - 02:17

Australia Steve Smith as opener for Adelaide Test over specialist

Australia's selectors have named Steve Smith as David Warner's replacement at the top of the order, opting against picking a specialist opener.

Selectors announced their 13-man squad for the two-Test series against West Indies on Wednesday, ahead of the first Test which begins at Adelaide Oval on 17 January, which will include all-rounder Cameron Green at No 4 in the XI.

Matt Renshaw and Scott Boland have also been added to the squad, however will join the gathering late and likely act as backup batters and bowlers ( Read More Women Cricket Series News Australia and india )

Steve Smith will be opening the batting and Cameron Green will be coming into the No 4 position which is fantastic," the chief selector, George Bailey, said.

"We have chosen a team we believe contains the best six batters in the country."

That desire to pick the half-dozen leading batsmen and get all-rounder Green back into the team drove selectors to decide against a specialist opener. (Read More David Warner exits Test innings for the last time)

When Warner announced his retirement plans back in June, it was normal the race to replace him was between Renshaw, Marcus Harris and Cameron Bancroft.

Bancroft has since piled on the most runs in the Sheffield Shield, backing up last summer's big season for Western Australia when he also topped the charts. ( Read More Cricket, Australia v Pakistan 3rd Test Match View full scorecard)

In any case, Australia's selectors see a generational talent in Green, who also provides a genuine fifth fast-bowling option alongside Mitch Marsh and the three quicks.

"The way the remainder of that batting order is functioning left us feeling like we have someone who we think is really talented, who potentially was going to find it hard to get any Test cricket in the following 12 months," Bailey said of Green. (Read More Emotional David Warner braces for a perfect farewell )

"I don't think that's going to be particularly beneficial for Greeny. We can get a great deal of benefits out of him playing. [We've been] working through some of the solutions to that and how he might actually opening in and where that could be.

"Steve's motivated and energized and keen to

Asked if Smith would drop back down the order if he didn't work out as an opener, Bailey said that had "been part of the discussions with Steve".

I believe he's keen for this to be a significant chapter of his career," he said.

"We don't look too far ahead … [but] for all intents and purposes this is where Steve wants to stay.

"It's selfless that someone who has had so much success in one position or a couple of positions in the middle order is open and willing and hungry to have a crack at something new and something different."

Australia's captain, Pat Cummins, had warned against moving Smith up to opener to allow Green to bat at No 4, concerned the switch would cause too much disruption to the order.

However, officials have ultimately decided that is the best way forward, believing it can motivate Smith and potentially keep him playing Test cricket for longer.

Green's return comes after he was squeezed out of the team during last year's Ashes when Marsh scored 100 years while filling in for him at Headingley.

His addition to the team is the main change to the XI that beat Pakistan 3-0 to start the Test summer.

Australia squad for West Indies Test series: Pat Cummins (capt), Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitch Marsh, Matt Renshaw, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc.

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