Former Australia captain Mark Taylor has advised the team to continue with the vice-captain Steve Smith as the Test opener despite having a tough outing in the recently concluded series against New Zealand. Australia won the two-match Test series 2-0 after a match-winning inning played by wicket-keeper batter Alex Carey but Smith's struggle with his new opening position continued as he scored 31, 0, 11 and 9 across four innings. Australia Coach Andrew McDonald Hints at Continuing With Steve Smith As Opener in Test Series Against India.

Smith was handed a new position to bat after David Warner’s retirement from Test cricket after a home series win against Pakistan. Across four matches since opening for Australia in the Test, Smith has hardly been effective with the bat. With the highest score of 91 against West Indies in the second Test, Smith has scored 171 runs.

"The two Test matches were played on pitches that were certainly bowler-friendly and I think that point needs to be made. It's going to be very difficult for Australia to change now, to be totally honest ... I think the die is cast. I think they are going to have to stick that way, because if they want to bring in an opener now, someone is going to have to miss out," Taylor was quoted by Wide World of Sports.

"You make a change in a team if you think you can make the team better, that's the bottom line. The side is finding ways to win. There will be no rush by Australian selectors to make a change to our batting order. I think Australia will stick with what they're doing and stick with Steve Smith to open the batting next summer," he added.

Smith has scored 9685 runs in the longest format of the game with a stunning average of 56.97 in 109 matches. However, his recent struggle with the bat saw a dip in his average to 42.22 in the last 13 games. Meanwhile, head coach Andrew McDonald rallied behind Smith, defending the star player amidst mounting criticism. Coach Andrew McDonald Backs Mitchell Marsh To Captain Australia in ICC T20 World Cup 2024.

"No doubt everyone is still asking the question ... he is a great player and his ability to problem solve is one of his great strengths," McDonald said. "I think it's unfair, and that will probably mean I'm going into defensive mode around my player. I don't think it's deserved. He'll be able to work through that. He's been challenged in these conditions. He's up for the challenge, and I think any time that Steve Smith fails he sees it as a greater challenge,” he added.

Australia’s next big assignment will be the Border-Gavaskar five-match Test series against India.

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Mar 12, 2024 04:33 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website