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Australia coach indicates Smith to persist as opener vs India

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NEW DELHI: Australia’s cricket coach,

Andrew McDonald

, has hinted that Steve Smith is likely to continue as an opener, “at least until the home series against India later this year,” despite scrutiny over his recent performances in that role.
India are slated to visit Australia between November this year and January 2025 to defend the

Border-Gavaskar Trophy

, a contest they have retained in the 2018-19 and 2020-21 series.

McDonald, in conversation with cricket.com.au, suggested that the upcoming challenges against India could serve as an “internal motivator” for Smith.
“He wants to open, it’s a position that he came to us around and we think he can make it work,” McDonald stated.

Smith’s promotion to the opening slot came during the series against West Indies in January this year following

David Warner

‘s retirement from Test cricket after the home series against Pakistan. However, his performances as an opener have been underwhelming, with only one fifty – an unbeaten 91 against the Windies in Brisbane – to his name since the promotion.
Despite Smith’s modest numbers, McDonald refrained from attaching too much significance to the statistics.

“He’ll be able to work through that, it’s a new challenge for him, it’s a new position,” McDonald remarked, indicating his confidence in Smith’s ability to adapt.
McDonald defended Smith’s position, suggesting that it would be unfair to judge him after only a few Test matches as an opener.
“If you’re bringing in a new opener and you gave them four Test matches, and then said ‘okay; we’re going to shift that after four Test matches’ would you think that’s fair or unfair? I think that’s reasonably unfair,” McDonald explained.
While acknowledging the potential for changes in the lineup, McDonald highlighted Australia’s recent success, including a 2-0 series win against New Zealand and eight victories out of 12 Tests, with four of those wins coming away from home in England and New Zealand.
“It’s going to be a hard group to infiltrate, it will take something special I think,” McDonald concluded, emphasizing the competitive nature of the team’s lineup.
(With inputs from PTI)

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