Former Australia captain Steve Smith feels he can play a significant part in this year’s ICC Men’s T20 World Cup campaign if he is utilized in the hosts’ title defence later this year in October.
Smith, who scored 69 runs in four innings last season, has found it challenging to get into Australia’s T20I squad in recent times, frequently being used to play the role of an anchor to repair an innings after a bad start
Despite concerns that his game is not suited to the shorter format, the 33-year-old feels he can be a useful asset in national colours, as seen by a 37* (27) performance to help the team win a series against Sri Lanka in June earlier this year.
ICC quoted Smith as saying, “I feel like when I’m playing good T20 cricket, I’m in that team for sure. I think the role that I’ve been given in the last couple of years is the Mr. Fix-it sort of role, and that tag’s been taken away from me now (since) the Sri Lanka tour.”
While not known for his sheer might with the bat, Smith has produced a lot of quick-fire half-centuries in Australian colours, with all four of his T20I half-centuries coming at a strike rate in an abundance of 140.
Should he be asked to increase the run rate in the middle order, Smith believes he can play the perfect foil to Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, and others in either setting mammoth totals or hunting steep targets in front of the home crowd.
Smith spoke regarding his mindset, “I felt like I could go out and just play with a lot more freedom naturally (in Sri Lanka) and not have any kind of hesitation in the back of my mind like I need to be a bit more reserved or anything.” He added, “I can just take the game on and if I want to smack someone for six first ball, then I’m able to do that freely. When I’m playing my best, I play freely. I watch the ball and hit the gaps and just look to use the middle of my bat as much as possible.”
Meanwhile, Mitchell Marsh’s ankle injury has dealt a little setback to Australia’s preparations for the event.
The all-rounder set to miss ODI Super League matches against Zimbabwe and New Zealand, the Australians are hoping for him to recover in time, to fly to India in late September for a three-match T20I series in preparation for their title defence.
Marsh is in competition with Smith for the number three place, while Smith acknowledges that his teammate will play a significant role in the home campaign. “It’s obviously not ideal for Mitch. He’s been playing some really good white-ball cricket recently.” Speaking on Marsh, Smith said, “He was obviously a big part of our T20 World Cup campaign last year and I’m sure there’s big plans for him this year, so I think the priority is to get him right for that.” Australia begin their title defence against New Zealand in October in front of their home crowd.