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T20 World Cup 2021

Shane Warne: I love Steve Smith but he shouldn’t be in Australia’s T20 team

by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Steve Smith’s position in T20I cricket is under pressure after Australia’s T20 World Cup thumping by England.

Smith, rated as one of the greatest Test batters there has been, batted at No.4 in Australia’s first two games against South Africa and Sri Lanka, making 35 off 34 and an unbeaten 28 off 26 as the Aussies won both fixtures. Against England, he was promoted to No.3 after David Warner’s second over dismissal, but was dismissed for one off five.

Smith has a middling overall record in T20I cricket. He averages 27.67 with a strike-rate of 126.54 for Australia. In all T20 cricket, he averages 30.41 with a strike-rate of 125.41.

Mitchell Marsh has been Australia’s regular option at No.3 in recent times. All but one of his 11 innings since March have come at the position, and he averages 37.50 at first-drop in that time. However, he managed only 11 off 17 balls against South Africa and was demoted down the order against Sri Lanka, before being left out for the England clash.

Shane Warne felt that Marsh’s exclusion was a “disappointing selection” and stated that Smith “shouldn’t be in the T/20 team [sic]”. He also felt Australia got their batting order wrong, with Glenn Maxwell coming in at No.4, ahead of Marcus Stoinis at No.5.

After Australia’s defeat, Warne reiterated that, in his opinion, Aaron Finch and Justin Langer got their team wrong.

Former Australia captain Mark Taylor, meanwhile, agreed that Marsh’s exclusion was a mistake, but stopped short of saying Smith should have missed out in his place.

“The tactics I also found a little confusing,” he said. “The fact Mitch Marsh for example – he batted at No.3 in Australia’s first game, then at No.6 for Australia’s second game and didn’t get a bat… then wasn’t in the team yesterday. That’s strange. In this format of the game, yes you have to be flexible, but you have to build confidence. I would love to see Australia settle on a top three.

“I agree with Warnie’s point about Maxwell, maybe he is better down the order as a finisher, but I disagree with Warnie on Steve Smith. I’ve got to have Steve Smith in my team because he’s that good of a player. I’d like to see us pick and stick. If you think Mitch Marsh is a No.3, stick him at No.3 and give him more than one game to prove it.”

Australia’s next game is against Bangladesh on Thursday, November 4.

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