Steven Smith Finds New Comfort Zone as Australia’s Test Opener

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Steven Smith had the perfect response to critics who declared he shouldn’t be opening for Australia in Tests. Smith insists he didn’t overthink his approach to opening. After scores of 12, 11 not out and six, the star batter belted an unbeaten 91 in Australia’s second innings. He feels “comfortable” as an opener. “There was a lot of commentary around I’d failed in two or three innings**—** I had a not out and two low scores,” Smith said. “Now I’m averaging 60 as an opener.”

“It was just another position; I’ve battled against the new ball numerous times, coming in early. I’ve enjoyed the first couple of weeks of it…if they see fit to move me back down, I’ll do whatever the team needs.”

Smith, who became the first Australian to carry his bat since Warner in 2011, was the only player to handle West Indies’ newest pace sensation Shamar Joseph. The 24-year-old tore through Australia with 7 for 68 to spearhead the tourists to an extraordinary first Test victory down under since 1997.

“I overheard a conversation, I think we were seven down just before lunch and I overheard him speaking to [West Indies captain] Kraigg [Brathwaite]… he’s [Joseph] like, ‘I’m bowling to the end, man’,” Smith said. “He’s a rare talent and I think it’s great for cricket what he was able to do and see the West Indies competing like they did. He just kept coming in, and actually probably bowled faster at the end rather than the start.”

Smith also defended his decision to give No.11 Josh Hazlewood two balls to face Joseph in what ended up being the last over of the match. Hazlewood was Joseph’s final victim, sparking wild and joyful West Indies celebrations as they completed arguably the biggest upset in Test history.

“I’ve thought about it, whether we could do different things,” Smith admitted. “Maybe I could have taken five balls against Shamar; he was on fire obviously. But then I run the risk of not getting a run off the last ball and ‘Hoff’ [Hazlewood] having to take all six from Alzarri.”

Smith will lead Australia in the three-match ODI series which starts at the MCG on Friday.

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