With David Warner bidding farewell to Test cricket for Australia, a notable vacancy has emerged at the top of the batting order. Several players, including Cameron Bancroft, Marcus Harris, and Cameron Green, are in contention to fill Warner’s shoes.
Ricky Ponting, Australia’s World Cup-winning captain, has endorsed Bancroft for the role, following Warner’s final appearance in his 112th Test against Pakistan at the Sydney Cricket Ground last week. However, Michael Clarke, another World Cup-winning captain for Australia, has voiced his support for a more unconventional choice—Steve Smith as Australia’s Test opener. Clarke has gone so far as to predict that Smith could ascend to the position of the best opener within just 12 months if given the opportunity.
Clarke expressed his confidence in Smith’s abilities on ESPN’s Around the Wicket Podcast, stating, ‘I’ll tell you now about Steve Smith. If he wants to open the batting and they give him the chance, he will be the No 1 Test opener within 12 months. He is that good a player.’ Clarke even suggested that Smith might break Brian Lara’s 400-run record, emphasizing Smith’s exceptional skills and the extended timeframe available to him as an opener.
Providing his rationale for this bold prediction, Clarke highlighted Smith’s technical prowess, adept ball judgment, excellent eye, and beautiful hands. Acknowledging the occasional nick or LBW possibility, Clarke affirmed Smith’s overall excellence and suggested that the challenge of opening might be exactly what the seasoned batsman is seeking.
Smith’s track record further adds weight to Clarke’s proposition. In 187 innings for Australia, Smith has amassed 9514 runs, with nearly 6,000 runs scored while batting at No. 4 at an impressive average of 61.51. His limited outings at No. 3 also showcase a remarkable average of 67.08, underlining his adaptability and effectiveness across different batting positions.