Smith eager to lead from front

2014-12-15 08:58
Steve Smith (AP)

Melbourne - Nailing down a spot in Australia's batting order took patience for Steve Smith but his elevation to captain of the Test team has been virtually an overnight affair.

Long marked for big things, Smith was named Australia's 45th Test captain on Monday in place of injured Michael Clarke and will have scarcely two days to digest the appointment before leading the team against India in the second Test in Brisbane.

Though nominally a temporary replacement, the 25-year-old will lead for the remaining three Tests against India and may yet hold the reins of the one-day team when Australia hosts the World Cup, the game's biggest global showpiece.

The third-youngest captain to ever lead the team, Smith will have to shoulder a huge burden of expectation as the holder of Australia's "second highest office" after the Prime Minister.

Little wonder, he will take an 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' approach to leading over the rest of the India series.

"It's been a pretty whirlwind 18 months for me personally and I guess the whole team as well," Smith told reporters in Brisbane on Monday.

"As a captain, I think first and foremost I'll try to lead from the front with my performance on the field.

"And in regards to tactics and everything, I think we've been pretty good this year. Pup's (Clarke's) been amazing with what he's done.

"I don't feel there's any real need for a big change there."

Smith's appointment means Cricket Australia has accelerated succession planning for Clarke's eventual departure, which may become clearer over the next couple of days after more scans on his troublesome hamstring.

The sight of Smith and his boyish features ordering around seasoned team mates like 37-year-old vice-captain Brad Haddin and 35-year-old paceman Ryan Harris may seem curious at first.

Haddin helped guide Australia to a nerve-jangling victory on day five of the Adelaide Test when Clarke limped off the field injured and was fancied as a good short-term replacement by the country's high performance chief Pat Howard.

But hard-bitten wicketkeeper Haddin will be an important sounding board for Smith, who has led state team New South Wales and claims the respect of senior players.

Much of that respect has developed only in the past 12-18 months as Smith has cemented his place with a mountain of runs after three years of hard graft on the fringes since his 2010 debut as a raw 21-year-old at Lord's against Pakistan.

"I think I'm just getting better every day," said Smith, who was unbeaten in both innings at Adelaide, scoring 162 and 52.

"I am (ready). I'm extremely excited.

"I think when I'm just a player on the field I try to have my brain thinking like a captain all the time.

"Obviously it's a different kettle of fish (leading) Australia, but I'm really looking forward to the challenge."

Read more on:    steve smith  |  cricket

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