Australia needs a new leader, a white knight, a torchbearer of success. Is Steven Smith the One?
England regain the Ashes
Mark Wood to Nathan Lyon – Lyon considers a leave and instead drags down the ball back onto the stumps and England beat Australia by an innings and 78 runs in the fourth Investec Test to regain the Ashes at Trent Bridge. In the lead up to this day, Australia had been bowled for 60 in the first innings, Steven Smith had a torrid series and the other Australian batsmen rarely showed up. This also means that England have now won four home Ashes series in a row and Michael Clarke again failed to win the Ashes on English soil. And then came the shocker or let’s say it was kind of expected…
Michael Clarke to retire
Even as Clarke watched his team being beaten comprehensively from the balcony, Cricket Australia announced that Clarke will retire at the end of the series. “Time has caught up with me,” said Clarke. It is not a good time but I feel it is the right time for Clarke to go. Australian cricket has had its fair share of success under him but then it has also had a lot of unsavory moments including the selectors and he being at loggerheads over his fitness last year. As expected after an Ashes defeat, the tabloids have obviously taken to blaming everything from divisions in the team to the spouses and partners being with the players on tour.
Aussies need to be re-unified
The team needs to be reenergized, revitalized and reunified and this will be a lot for the new captain, Steven Peter Devereux Smith, born in New South Wales and all of 26 years and 32 Tests. He will officially take charge of the team when the Aussies visit Bangladesh in October and that team will not carry much of Clarke’s baggage but Smith will face a new set of problems. That team will be without Ryan Harris, Shane Watson, Brad Haddin (a major mentor to Smith) and Chris Rogers which creates a bigger question – who will be the young guns coming in – Usman Khawaja?, Cameron Bancroft? Or maybe Joe Burns? Well, let’s leave that to the Australian selectors because Smith, like Clarke, prefers to distance himself from selection issues as he asserted when he said, “Obviously it’s not my job to pick the team, but there is a possibility there could be some changes and some younger guys coming in”.
Is Smith the captain the Aussies need?
Smith is a fierce proponent of one-on-one sessions with the batting coach and it will be interesting to see how his batting adapts to the pressures of full time captaincy as he will have to give time to others in the team. During the India series, Smith had led the team in India’s absence and he scored a hundred in each of the three tests but he also showed his conservative captaincy when he did not declare early enough in Melbourne and Sydney so that India are shut out of the game. Compare this with Clarke, and you remember him declaring even when the opposition could have come back into the game. But let us leave that for the future to discuss. Smith may or may not be the captain Australia need, but he is the only option available. The Australians will hope he can emulate his predecessors’ appetite for success and when the Ashes are there for the taking again on home soil in 2017/18, he will be expected to be the harbinger of glory. Do you think Smith will be the One?