Smith to open batting for Australia against Proteas

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  • Post published:August 8, 2023

Steve Smith is set to open the batting when Australia take on the Proteas in their upcoming Twenty20 series.

It’s a big comeback for the 34-year-old, who was mostly left out of Australia’s starting XI for the failed T20 World Cup last year.

Smith usually bats at number three or four, but at the end of the Big Bash League season last year, he played for the Sydney Sixers as an opener and hit two hot centuries.

Chairman of selectors George Bailey said it gave him the right to do the same thing for the first time on an international level in the sport’s shortest format, filling a hole left by Aaron Finch’s retirement.

“He’ll open in South Africa and I guess he’s the one guy out of those multi-format players who is heading across that we wanted to give him that opportunity,” Bailey said after announcing the squad on Monday.

“It was pretty exhilarating, his innings in the Big Bash, and highlighted his skillset and what he can do.

“The way he played in the Big Bash, that’s something we want to see replicated internationally, so it’s important that he gets an opportunity to have a crack at that.

“He was really keen to come across and be a part of that.”

It gives Smith a chance to make sure of his spot before the 2024 World Cup, which will be held in the United States and the West Indies.

Warner, who has always opened with Finch, will not play in the three T20s in Durban from August 30 to September 3.

In Warner’s place, Smith could open with any of Mitchell Marsh, Travis Head, Marcus Stoinis, or even big-hitting rookie Matthew Short.

Finch’s retirement also made room for a new T20 captain, and Marsh was chosen after his own career came back to life in that format.

“We’re excited to see what he does with the titled leadership next to him,” said Bailey.

“The personality and the way he drives the culture with the team is excellent, so looking forward to seeing what extra he brings from a tactical point of view.”