63 I’LL BE JUST LIKE PUP, SAYS SMITH
STEVE Smith claims Michael Clarke has set the benchmark for how he will captain the Australia team.
Smith conceded he cost Australia two shots at victory last summer with conservative decisions as interim skipper, and has outlined his determination to follow in the aggressive footsteps of Clarke when he takes over the role full time.
Two hallmarks of Clarke’s reign were his ability to lead from the front with big runs and his style as an innovative leader prepared to chase a win at all costs, even if it meant risking defeat.
An experience vacuum is about to face Australian cricket, but Smith said he had gained confidence learning from Clarke and was ready to step up and make his own mark.
“You can learn a lot from the way (Clarke) captains just being out there,” he said.
“Standing next to him at third slip, where I’ve been fielding, it’s nice to be able to talk to him and learn different ways as to how we’re trying to get the batters out and thinking ahead of the present.
“That’s pretty important as a captain and something he’s done really well, and something I’ve been able to learn on the job.”
Filling in for three Tests in Clarke’s absence was never going to be easy last Down Under summer, and as a 25year-old thrust into the spotlight Smith seemed as though he belonged in charge as he sewed up a series win over India.
However, now that the role will become his permanently, Smith has opened up on a couple of harsh lessons he learnt from his apprenticeship.
Against India at the MCG, Smith delayed a final day declaration until lunch, and by close, Australia had run out of time on a flat pitch to take the last four wickets they needed for victory.
Post-match Smith defended his tactics despite criticisms that Clarke would have declared earlier, as a draw was all the home team needed to reclaim the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
Similarly in the fourth Test at the SCG, again on a tough pitch, Australia were content to let the game stagnate to a draw, rather than doing whatever it took to pursue a result.
Smith has vowed to put his real stamp on proceedings once he officially takes over against Bangladesh in October.
“I think the two games that we drew I could probably have been a bit more aggressive and given ourselves more of a chance to bowl the opposition out,” Smith said.
However, the one thing he cannot be faulted on has been his ability to lift his own performances despite the added pressure of being in charge.
Smith made 133, 192 and 117 in the three Tests he captained.
Although Clarke’s form dropped off toward the end, for years he was able to lead by example for his teammates with big runs in tough times.
Smith has dropped to No.3 in the ICC Test batting rankings after a disappointing finish to the Ashes, however he is confident being skipper will bring the best out in him. “I hope so,’’ he said. ‘‘Every game I’ve captained so far I’ve scored a hundred, so I’d like that record to keep going. I hope it does.
“If I am named the captain (his appointment is seeking board approval) I would like to lead from the front with my performances, for sure.’’