New Delhi, Dec 10 (IANS) Steve Smith on Wednesday stated that Australia’s batting depth will be tested in the absence of the injured opener David Warner for the first Test of the upcoming four-match series against India which begins December 17 at the Adelaide Oval. However, Smith is willing to take the responsibility of manning the number three slot in case the usual one-down batsman, Marnus Labuschagne, is sent out to open the innings.
Australia have been contemplating over opening options with Will Pucovski also uncertain following concussion-related worries after he was hit on the head by a delivery from Kartik Tyagi during the first warm-up tie earlier this week.
Pucovski is still in Sydney, tended to by the doctors, while most of the Australian Test team players, including Smith, have flown in to Adelaide.
“Our depth is going to be tested with Davy (Warner) out and a few potentially new players coming in. So it will test us out against a good Indian outfit,” Smith said while speaking to reporters on Thursday.
Smith added that batting at the number three position doesn’t bother him too much if Pucovksi doesn’t play the first Test and Australia don’t call in replacements like Usman Khawaja or Shaun Marsh forcing Labuschagne to open.
“That doesn’t bother me too much. I bat a fair bit at number three. Three or four… anywhere out there I am fine. You know when you bat at three, you are sometimes in at first ball of the game, first over of the game, that is sort of reality of batting there, someone at three could go at the top,” Smith said
“I wouldn’t put more pressure on myself. I will go out there and do my job and that is to try and score as many runs as possible as I can, no matter who is playing and what the circumstances are. I guess we will wait and see what happens with the next ‘A’ game and what the selectors want to do. We have still got a week before the start of the first Test. They have got a game to play against India ‘A’ up there. We’ll wait and see where it all ends,” he added.
The right-handed batsman feels that he has got back into rhythm with the bat and the inconsistent run in the T20I series doesn’t worry him. He says that the grip is in the right place.
“Sometimes in white-ball cricket I like to open my grip up just slightly to allow me to slice the ball and particularly when I play the bigger shots…whereas in red-ball cricket, I can play with a lot more closed grip because you are not playing that many big shots. I think it helps me play the ball later and under my eyes a lot more…the grip’s feeling good at the moment…it is in a good place,” said Smith.
Like Pucovski, the 31-year-old also survived a concussion scare last year when he was hit on the head by Jofra Archer during the Ashes Test series. However, he recovered well from there, coming back to play some important innings.
Smith says it is the hangover effect of a hit that the players need to overcome and worry about.
“Every concussion is different, everybody is different. Will’s had a couple (few) in the past so he has experienced just about getting over that hangover effect, the protocols, getting yourself into a position to firstly go into the nets and face some light stuff and then some bowlers and then get yourself right to play yourself out in the middle. Will is still in Sydney, we are here in Adelaide. I am sure he is working with the doctors there and doing everything he can to get himself right to play. I guess that is (happening) by just resting and recovering and getting over that. I guess the hangover effect of a concussion is (what matters),” Smith said.
Smith also added that though he has not had much issue handling concussion after-effects, Pucovski’s ability to come back will depend on how he deals with it.
“I haven’t found any drama with it. I trust with what I have done over a long period of time and I have face loads of short stuff. I have also been hit a couple of times but you know I have faced plenty of short stuff in the nets from bowlers that are bowling good pace – (Mitchell) Starc, (Josh) Hazlewood and (Pat) Cummins. They aren’t afraid to bowl bouncers at the nets. That is good practice as well, so for me personally, I have no issue with it. But again, everyone is different… That’s probably more a question for Will but personally I haven’t had any dramas with that,” Smith said.