Sports

Paine on Smith: If I’m the opposition, I want him opening the batting

Former Australia captain Tim Paine has expressed his confidence in Steven Smith’s ability to succeed as an opener despite a challenging start in the role. Smith’s transition to the top of the batting order came in the wake of David Warner’s retirement, a move aimed at reshaping Australia’s lineup.

During Australia’s tour of New Zealand, Smith’s struggles raised questions about his suitability as an opener. Paine acknowledged the concerns, noting that opposition teams might view Smith’s new position as an opportunity to exploit his vulnerabilities early in the innings. Paine emphasized the importance of Smith finding his rhythm in the new role.

Reflecting on Smith’s performance in New Zealand, Paine highlighted the strategic advantage for rival bowlers to face Smith with the new ball. He said, “If I’m the opposition, I want him opening the batting.” Smith’s elevation to the top enabled Cameron Green to return at No. 4 and he struck a brilliant unbeaten 174 in the first Test at Wellington.

Paine remained optimistic about Smith’s potential as an opener, citing his exceptional talent and adaptability. He stressed that Smith’s ability to bat anywhere in the lineup is a testament to his skill and determination. Australia’s head coach, Andrew McDonald, labeled the scrutiny of Smith’s early performances as “unfair” and emphasized the need for patience.

Looking ahead to Australia’s upcoming Test series against India, Paine dismissed suggestions of altering the batting order and reaffirmed Smith’s position at the top. He expressed confidence that Smith’s determination and skill would enable him to overcome any challenges he may encounter against India’s formidable pace attack.

Australia will next face India in the Border-Gavaskar trophy in November. Paine said, “(Smith) is probably one of three or four players who has ever played for Australia who can probably bat wherever he wants and if he wants, and is driven enough, to be Australia’s Test opener I think he’ll make it work and you’ll see him come out next summer and dominate.”

IANS

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