Australia news – Tim Paine: If I’m the opposition, I want Steven Smith opening the batting

Former Australia captain Tim Paine believes that opposition teams will be happy to see Steven Smith continue to open the batting after his indifferent start in the role but does not envisage any change being made for the India series later this year.
Paine was still confident Smith could make a success of the position despite a lean tour of New Zealand where he made 51 runs at 12.75 although was not sure his new role carries the same fear factor for bowlers. Smith was twice lbw in Christchurch, shouldering arms to Ben Sears in the first innings then being pinned by a nip-backer from Matt Henry in the second.

“I look at it, that if I was playing against Australia, where would I prefer Steve Smith to bat? If I’m the opposition, I want him opening the batting,” Paine told ESPN’s Around The Wicket. “I want my best bowlers at their freshest with a brand new ball. I was in that Ashes in 2019 and went to England with him in another one and when he was at his best batting at four you just felt he couldn’t get out.

“I would love to see him succeed as an opener, I think he can, there’s no doubt about that, he’s good enough to bat anywhere, but as an opposition player I want him at the top of the order because that gives me the best chance of getting him out.”

Smith’s elevation to the top to fill the vacancy created by David Warner’s retirement enabled Cameron Green to return at No. 4 and he struck a brilliant unbeaten 174 in the first Test at Wellington.

“I don’t think anything changes,” Paine said of Australia’s batting order. “[Smith] is probably one of three or four players who has ever played for Australia who can probably do what he’s doing at the moment. He’s earned the right, in my opinion, to 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.”

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