Australia has slid to number 3 on the ICC ODI rankings and number 5 on the ICC Test rankings – a position Australia is not used to occupying. The team has not performed as well as Captain Steven Smith would have liked in both formats and it appears that Smith has now run out of reasons and excuses with the recent 4-1 series loss to India.
Australia still have a chance of redeeming themselves as they have a 3 match T20 series against India before they fly back home to prepare for an all important Ashes series. Should Australia win the T20 series, Smith will most likely get a respite and start with a clean slate against England. However should he lose the T20 series, he will be under immense pressure on his return to Australia and there will be more questions raised about his captaincy.
Steve Smith’s Form With The Bat A Worry
A captain has to lead from the front and that means being consistent. Smith started off his captaincy period very well but during the last 12 months, his form has declined and that has also hurt Australia and Smith is arguably their best batsman – definitely in test cricket.
During the last 10 ODI’s, Smith has scored just 347 runs at an average of 34.70 and has not hit a century. The problem is that Smith’s ODI average is just 43.23, which is not very impressive for a number 3. His problems with the bat have also affected his fielding as Smith has dropped a number of crucial catches during the series.
Michael Clarke Critical Of Smith’s Captaincy
Former captain Michael Clarke was critical of Smith’s captaincy during the 5th ODI at Nagpur. Clarke who is a fan of Smith was not impressed with his field placements as Smith did not have a slip in place for his spinners during the middle-overs when Australia had a chance of putting pressure on India.
Smith decided to bring in a slip when India had just a few runs left to get which left Clarke baffled. The Australian’s who usually have a never-say-die attitude and fight till the end, looked a defeated side well before the final run was scored and their body language was not very impressive at all. Smith has to shoulder some of the blame here as he has looked disappointed and frustrated on the field on multiple occasions which is not very motivating for the rest of the team.
Rodney Hogg Alleges Favoritism
There is growing criticism back home for Smith and his style of leadership. Former Aussie cricketer Rodney Hogg lashed out at Smith for his team selections and claimed that the skipper preferred to pick his friends. Australia have lost 11 out of their last 13 ODIs and it might be time for vice-captain David Warner to take over the captaincy in ODIs as he is a lot more aggressive and consistent with the bat.
The Ashes will definitely play a huge factor in Steven Smith’s tenure as a captain. Should Australia end up losing the Ashes, it will most likely be the end of Smith in one or more formats.