Tubby: Why Smith opening is not as daft as it seems

Tubby: Why Smith opening is not as daft as it seems

Former Australian captain Mark Taylor has endorsed Steve Smith as David Warner’s surprise replacement at the top of the Test batting order.

In what shapes as another lopsided home summer, the internal race to face the new ball against the West Indies is much more competitive.

Cameron Bancroft, Matt Renshaw and Marcus Harris are the specialist options to partner Usman Khawaja but Smith and Cameron Green are also in the mix for new roles.

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Smith’s declaration that he was “pretty keen” to open was a genuine bombshell given his brilliant Test career in the middle order.

And Taylor, one of Australia’s great Test openers, backed him in.

“I don’t mind that at all because to me it says Steve Smith wants to do what’s best for the team, which I think is terrific,” Taylor told Wide World of Sports radio on Monday night.

“I thought maybe (Marnus) Labuschagne moves up and Smith bats at three and Green comes in at four. But if Smith wants to move up and Labuschagne doesn’t, I don’t have a problem with that.

“If that’s what’s best for Australian cricket, I think it’s a good move.”

Taylor added that Bancroft – who like Smith and Warner was banned for his role in the Sandpapergate scandal – “deserves a chance” after excellent Sheffield Shield form for Western Australia.

But moving Smith up the order would open up a slot for allrounder Green at No.4, where he has excelled for WA.

“He’s got all the numbers – especially batting at four for WA where he averages about 60 – to suggest that we’ve got to get him in the team,” Taylor said.

“He’s a great field, he’s a more than handy medium quick as well.”

Meanwhile, Taylor’s former opening partner, Matt Hayden, told the Sydney Morning Herald that he would give the nod to Renshaw.

The Australian selectors will show their hand on Wednesday and captain Pat Cummins has expressed reservations about moving Smith.

“It’s just not going to happen in my opinion,” Hayden said.

“He’s (Smith) commanded so much respect in the game that we should all listen to what he has to say, but I equally think that’s not the way the Australian cricket team management will go. It certainly doesn’t sound like the way Pat will go.

“I just can’t see how strategically that is going to work for Cricket Australia.

“They will need someone more concrete than that.”

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