Australia skipper Steve Smith has thrown his support behind the nation’s Indoor Cricket teams, as they prepare to commence their 2017 World Indoor Cricket Federation World Cup campaign on Saturday.
The Australians will be out to maintain their status as world champions after clean-sweeping the four divisions at the 2014 World Cup in New Zealand, and Smith - a former indoor cricketer in his junior days - hopes Australia can continue that trend.
"I hope that Australia can win again across the four categories – men’s, women’s under-21 men’s and under-21 women’s – but I also hope the World Cup will be a great advert for the sport and one that will take indoor cricket to the next level,” Smith said.
"Indoor cricket’s an exciting form of the game, something I enjoyed playing on a regular basis over many years and also something that helped shape me as a cricketer during my formative years, in Bankstown, Sydney.
"The skills I developed in indoor cricket – working the ball into gaps on either side of the pitch, the need to run well between the wickets, dynamic fielding and treating every ball as an event while never switching off – are ones that have stood me in good stead throughout my career playing the 11-a-side outdoor version of the game.
"The sport is big in Australia, and that’s reflected in our success in winning all World Cups in every category since the first one in 1995 and also by the fact that matches in the national tournament are streamed live by Cricket Australia.
"On that basis it’s encouraging to hear about other countries looking to give the sport a real go and push against our dominance.”
Australia not only won four of four trophies on offer in 2014 - but in fact has never lost any division of the World Cup.
The Open Men’s side will chase a 10th straight title, the Open Women’s side a 9th in succession - and both the 21 & Under Men’s and Women’s teams will be looking for their sixth triumph.
"I’ll be looking out for the results from India during our limited-overs tour there that coincides with the action in Dubai and my hope is that this Indoor Cricket World Cup will encourage players, and even spectators, who’ve only ever thought of cricket in terms of the 11-a-side outdoor game to get involved in indoor cricket too.
"And if that happens then, whoever lifts the trophies at the end of the event, then cricket as a whole will be the big winner.”
The tournament runs from September 16 to 23 in Dubai, with Cricket Australia partnering with the Emirates Cricket Board to host the event at Dubai’s Insportz Club.