With a big group of characters missing from the Australian camp, Steve Smith demands that the ‘quiet’ bunch he inherited find their bark.
After an embarrassing 3-0 loss in the Test series against Sri Lanka, Smith headed home to rest after Australia’s first ODI win, allowing David Warner to step in as captain for the two remaining ODIs. There was an evident aggression and assertiveness from the team, which, according to Smith, was lacking leading up to this point.
The Australian captain said that their lack of aggression on the field was one of the reasons for their recent Test series defeat in Sri Lanka. Smith will be looking to get Australia’s trademark aggressiveness back for the five-match ODI series against the Proteas, starting next week.
‘I thought his [Warner’s] energy was magnificent throughout those games and looking forward that’s the sort of energy we want from him and all of the other senior players,’ Smith told ESPNCricnfo. ‘We’ve got a pretty quiet group and we need that sort of energy come South Africa and the summer as well. I thought in the Test series in Sri Lanka we lacked a fair bit of energy in the field and that probably cost us at times. We put down a few crucial chances and in the grand scheme of things that could have made a difference.’
After losing Michael Clarke, Brad Haddin, Shane Watson and Mitchell Johnson through retirement and James Faulkner, Shaun Marsh, Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins to injury, the trademark Aussie bark has been silenced. The likes of Peter Nevill, Adam Voges and Nathan Lyon are not known to raise their voices, but Smith believes they need to do so in order for them to keep their dominance.
‘It’s difficult,’ he said. ‘We’ve got some pretty quiet characters, so even if it’s not making noise verbally it might be just about having a bit more presence and the old Australian way of puffing your chest out and making your presence felt for the quieter guys. It’s trying to do that, get into the game that way and try to provide some sort of energy that way.’
Communication in the field is an area Smith wants to improve on, and is fit and firing to go after deciding to rest himself from the last two ODIs and two T20s of the tour.
‘For me it was just about getting the messaging across and I think we could have got the messaging across a fair bit better,’ Smith said. ‘We knew a fair way out that I was going to leave after the second one-day game. The fact we only brought it out the day before probably shocked a few people, so in future if this sort of thing pops up and someone’s having a rest. It’s about getting it out a little bit earlier.
‘I watched every ball that was bowled in the one-day series and I did miss it, but having said that it probably will do me the world of good looking at what’s coming up. Particularly the fast bowlers, it’s very difficult for them to sustain it for long periods of time and go full tilt, which we want those guys doing. Having said that, for this series it gives a couple of guys an opportunity, we get a look at the likes of Tremain, Worrall and Mennie.’
Australia will play their first match of the upcoming Tour against Ireland on 27 September, followed by the first ODI against the Proteas, which gets underway 30 September.
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