Australia wicket-keeper Alex Carey got to witness Steven Smith’s coolness under pressure first-hand and has commended the former captain for helping spark the turnaround against West Indies. Carey came to the crease with Australia in trouble at 79/5 but combined with Smith for a battling sixth-wicket partnership of 68 that helped get the innings back on track. The keeper made a handy 45, as Smith anchored the innings with 73 off 103 balls, before Nathan Coulter-Nile produced the fireworks with an ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup record score for a number eight of 92 to help post 288 from 50 overs.
That helped propel the world champions to a 15-run triumph at Trent Bridge and Carey pinpointed Smith’s knock as the one that held everything together. “He batted beautifully. His tempo with lots of wickets falling was outstanding, he showed his class,” Carey explained.
“Personally, I felt OK. I gave myself a fair bit of time to get my innings going. Speaking to Smudge [Smith] there was plenty of time left on the board. It was a matter of trying to absorb a bit of pressure, just bat and scrap through as many as we could.
“And then to have a guy [Coulter-Nile] playing probably the innings of his life is something you guys probably enjoyed as well.
“I know he is capable of striking the ball very cleanly, he showed that here. Some days you go on a roll and he did that. He batted to help Smudge firstly. Personally, it was nice to get a partnership going.”
And despite being the junior presence at the crease, Carey claims Smith didn’t give him any particular advice on how to turn things round. “He didn’t say a lot,” added Carey. “I suppose when I was two off 23 balls he gave me no indication I was doing something wrong, backing up what I was trying to do out there.
“There was no pressure from him, so we were fine just going together. I think we know at Trent Bridge, if we give ourselves a bit of time we can score freely.
“I didn’t think it was a bad thing at the time, I guess if you get out we’re 80/6 I gave myself a bit of time to assess the conditions and give the tail a chance.”
Carey confessed he had been both nervous and excited at the prospect of playing in his first World Cup but is now relishing the challenge of facing India, and their inspirational wicket-keeper MS Dhoni, on Sunday. “Playing against him [Dhoni] in India and Australia, he’s very calm,” said Carey. “He always gives himself a chance to finish off the game.
“He gives himself time out in the middle. They’re pretty calm heads, they give themselves a chance to finish off an innings.
“It’s a World Cup, so I didn’t know too much what to expect. Rolling to the first game in the bus and seeing all the crowd gave me some goosebumps. I thought it was a pretty cool feeling.”