Usman Khawaja on Steve Smith taking Test opener role. “The beauty of Steve Smith is he’s a beautiful No.4 batsman,” Khawaja said in a statement.
Since David Warner reveal that the home Test series against Pakistan will be his last. The cricket world has speculated on who succeed him at the top of the order. The small batsman ended his Test career on a good note, striking a half-century in his final innings in Sydney as Australia won the series 3-0 to bid the southpaw farewell.
Even a few months ago, there were just three main competitors for the all-important position. The performances of specialist openers Cameron Bancroft. Marcus Harris, and Matt Renshaw were being scrutinized. However, new opportunities have recently emerged, with middle-order specialists such as Cameron Green and Steve Smith putting their hats into the ring.
Green, a young all-rounder, force to sit out Australia’s recent matches
As Mitchell Marsh began scoring runs consistently at No. 6. No. 3 batter Marnus Labuschagne might also move to the top of the lineup to make room for Green in the middle. Meanwhile, Warner recently suggested that Smith’s versatility and talents would make him an effective Test opener. Green, on the other hand, would cause the least amount of commotion if he were to open.
In an interview with ABC last month, Australia’s head coach Andrew McDonald hinted at the possibility of backing a non-specialist opener, citing Australia’s past success with makeshift openers in Test cricket.
In the last 70 years, Usman Khawaja, Bob Simpson, and six other Australian hitters have advanced to the top of the order after beginning their careers in the middle. Only one of these eight players, Greg Blewett, was unable to improve his average after moving up the batting order.
Khawaja, Justin Langer, Shane Watson, Simon Katich, David Boon, Keith Stackpole, and Simpson are seven players who batted in the middle order for five or more Tests before going up the order. All of them did better as openers.
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Despite this, there are differing viewpoints on who should succeed Warner
Khawaja, one of the decision’s clear stakeholders, urged prudence, stating that he would not want a settled batter sacrificed in the process of adjustment.
“I say it’s a specialist position in brackets, but anyone who can bat in the top four can open,” Khawaja told Cricket.com.au. “I just wouldn’t want to take someone who is, in my opinion, the second-greatest ever Test batsman out of the position he’s been playing in for so long. Steve Smith is a superb No. 4 batsman. He can bat against the pace. He’s quite good against spin.”
The selectors will announce the roster for the next two-match home Test series against the West Indies on January 10. Cricket fans may get a hint as to who will be Khawaja’s new opening partner in Warner’s absence. The first Test will be played in Adelaide on January 17.