Australia could have a ready-made replacement for Aaron Finch in T20 cricket, with Steven Smith declaring his desire to open more often in the shortest format.
Smith was left out of Australia’s team for the majority of their home T20 World Cup disappointment last year, featuring in the middle order in only the final group game.
His response on return to T20 cricket in the BBL has been emphatic, with an impressive 36 off 27 balls for Sydney Sixers on a difficult SCG wicket last Sunday before a 56-ball century against Adelaide Strikers in Coffs Harbour on Tuesday.
Smith has long indicated his preference is to bat at the top of the order in T20 during the fielding restrictions.
“I like it up top, who wouldn’t want to open in T20 cricket?” Smith said. “Two men out, it gives yourself a chance to just play the ball as you see it early on.
“And then once the fielders go out you’ve got yourself in and have the chance to play your shots. It’s a place I enjoy batting. I did it a couple of times in the IPL and went okay.”
Australia’s T20 captain Finch is yet to announce his retirement from international cricket, but is considered long odds to play in the 2024 World Cup in the Caribbean and USA.
Cameron Green and Travis Head would loom as the likely frontrunners to replace Finch at the top, with other options including Alex Carey, Josh Philippe and Josh Inglis.
Smith said he had not considered whether his BBL output could help his cause to partner David Warner at the top when Australia next walk out for a T20 fixture, in August.
“I’m not reading too much into it,” he said. “I am just going out and playing and doing my best. We will wait and see what the future holds, it’s a while until the next T20 international anyway.”
Smith and Warner will face off on Saturday night in the BBL, with the game on the verge of being sold out and the potential for the biggest crowd for a Sydney BBL game since January 2017.
Warner showed some signs of firing ahead of the blockbuster on Thursday night with 26 in the Sydney Thunder’s crucial eight-wicket win over Melbourne Renegades.
Warner said afterwards he expected life to be harder for Smith against Thunder at the SCG than at Coffs Harbour on Tuesday, where the right-hander hit seven sixes.
“The boundaries are going to be bigger for Smudge,” Warner quipped. “They’re not going to be a 60-metre hit for him. So we’ll see if he can come out and clear those [SCG] boundaries.”