Australian captain Pat Cummins said the challenge of opening the innings in Test cricket has “re-energised” Steven Smith. The 34-year-old, who is averaging close to 60 at Nos. 3 and 4, volunteered to open after David Warner announced his retirement from Test cricket. Thanks to this move, Australia can now use Cameron Green at No. 4.
"Seeing someone who's basically achieved everything in the game get really excited for a new challenge, you've got to entertain that. You can already see his mind whirring about how he's maybe going to go about it a bit differently,” said Cummins ahead of the first Test against West Indies in Adelaide, starting from Wednesday (January 17).
"I've never seen him as happy and as energetic as I've seen him around the nets the last couple of days. He can't wait to get out there. Also think the new ball, maybe (there will be) a few more scoring options. It's something that excites him. So that makes sense and getting Greeny a spot where we think he is set up to succeed."
Matt Renshaw, who has opened for Australia in the past, is also in the squad as a reserve. Meanwhile, Cameron Bancroft and Marcus Harris were left out despite doing well in the Sheffield Shield. Bancroft was the leading run-scorer last season, while Harris holds a central contract and also has been in decent form.
"Obviously private phone calls, but no real surprises. We love what they both are doing in first-class cricket. We love what they bring to any side they're playing in. They're doing all the right things. Unfortunately, they both just missed out on this one. So the message was 'don't change'."
"In international cricket, there's always injuries or these guys (the incumbents) aren't going to be around forever. Marcus and Cam are still relatively young, as is Renners. So once that opening comes up at some point, any one of them we're confident can jump straight in and do a really good job."