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AUSTRALIA V PAKISTAN ODIS

We're not the finished product yet

12 January 2017
Our voices

As the Australians head in to one-day mode, the skipper takes a look back at the season in the whites

About the Writer:
 @stevesmith49

Steve is the 45th Test captain of Australia, one-day and T20 captain, and is a world-class batsman

It's been great to have a couple of days off after the Sydney Test to reflect on our summer of Test cricket.

Looking back, I'm proud of the job that I've done as captain and also really proud of the boys for the way they've been able to turn things around after Hobart.

It was a pretty dark time after our start to the summer, but the way we've played since then in both Test and one-day cricket has been outstanding and that's what we expect from the Australian team, especially when playing at home.

The press conference I had straight after our loss in Hobart was a good opportunity to get a few things off my chest and get the guys back on the right path. It was nice to do that and how the guys responded after that, with the new players we got in and the injection of youth, was fantastic.

Straight away I really felt a shift in energy and attitude when we got together in Adelaide and I think that has shown in the way we've played since then.

In saying that, the job's not done by any stretch of the imagination. We're not the finished product just yet.

Steve Smith reflects in the raw aftermath

It's been a fantastic turnaround and we've played some great cricket, but we've got India coming up and that's going to be extremely tough. A few of the guys haven't experienced Test cricket over there so it's going to be like nothing they've ever seen before. It's going to be a great learning experience and a fantastic challenge.

India is a place where you really need your senior players to stand up and set the standard, so myself and Davey Warner are going to need some clear plans and hopefully we can contribute really well. We're going to need some big runs if we're going to compete over there. We saw in the India-England series recently that England actually played reasonably well and they got some big scores, but India just got bigger scores. We have to bat for a long time and we know if we do that, we'll get big scores.

We've obviously had some fiery on-field battles with India over the years and there's no doubt that their skipper Virat Kohli enjoys a confrontation and a challenge. Hopefully we can get under his skin and ruffle his feathers with our performances, not so much with any confrontations or anything like that. If we play some good cricket, hopefully we can get under his skin that way.

I know the battle between myself and Virat, as the two skippers, will probably be built up a bit in the media, but I don't think it's a case of 'me versus him'. If we get him out cheaply that will obviously help our cause - he's a world-class player and he's a great player to watch. I'd love to see us dominate him and for our bowlers to be on top of him. But at the same time our leaders need to stand up in India and score big runs and hopefully I can do that.

Quick wrap: Smith's Australians secure clean sweep

Heading into this one-day series against Pakistan, it's exciting to think about how many talented players we have in this form of the game. There's probably about half a dozen guys around the country who aren't in this squad at the moment but could come in and play at any time.

We've got a lot of depth in this format and I think we've also got the balance right between the guys knowing that the competition for spots is fierce, but also not putting too much pressure on them when they're out in the middle. Our guys are allowed to play with freedom and play the way they want to play. Of course there's times when you'd got to pull it back and be smart, but we've got a good line-up at the moment.

We've left our frontline spinner Adam Zampa out of the side for our match against Pakistan on Friday, even though he's done a good job for us and he's continuing to improve.

Playing a spinner will depend on the conditions at each of the different grounds we play at in this series, and leaving Zamps out here is based more on conditions than anything else.

I think not playing a spinner in Australia can work well for us; it was successful in the World Cup and we've got two guys in Travis Head and Glenn Maxwell who are reasonable off-spinners and they do a good job. And that allows us to have two pace-bowling allrounders in our side, Mitchell Marsh and James Faulkner.

And that also means our batting is really deep. Mitchell Starc could be batting at number 10 in this first match and we've seen how destructive he can be. Our line-up allows the guys to play with a bit more freedom and if one of them attacks and they come off, it sets you up for a massive score. And if we know if doesn't work, there are guys around that can fix it and put partnerships together.

So for this match, we're happy with the mix of three quicks, two seam-bowling allrounders and two spinning allrounders. But if it looks like it's going to spin later in the series, Zamps will get his chance.

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