Gillette ODI Series 2018

Smith steps up with drop down the order

Skipper takes it upon himself to fill troublesome No.4 spot, expresses frustration at recent one-day form

Sam Ferris, in Sydney

22 January 2018, 06:10 PM

Steve Smith's stay at second-drop looks set to continue for the rest of the Gillette ODI Series as he tries to escape a 50-over form funk.

Smith moved to No.4 for Sunday’s third ODI against England at the SCG, where he scored 45 from 66 balls with one boundary in Australia’s 16-run defeat that means they have surrendered the series with two matches to spare.

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The positional switch was aimed at allowing Smith to occupy the crease and anchor Australia’s innings, much in the same way England counterpart Joe Root does so well for the tourists.

Batting at No.3 in the first two matches, the Australian skipper posted scores of 23 and 18, but first-drop is his most productive position in ODI cricket.

Coming in at the fall of the first wicket, Smith has scored seven of his eight ODI hundreds and averages 53, 13 runs more than his average one spot lower in the order.

Victoria veteran Cameron White batted at No.3 in Sydney – scoring 17 from 25 balls – and Smith confirmed on Sunday he will likely remain at second-drop in the ODI line-up for the remainder of the summer.

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"I think I’ll probably do it for the rest of the series," Smith said after Sunday's loss when asked about the permanency of his move to No.4.

"We’ll see how we go, (I've) just got to play some better cricket.

"It was about me trying to control the middle with the spinners and just keep getting off strike. Tonight, I wasn’t good enough at that. I should have been up around a run a ball and it would have made it a bit easier at the back end.

"I don’t know what it is; I’m not watching the ball closely enough or something like that. Not many balls were hitting the middle of my bat, which was disappointing.

'Everything fell to pieces again'

"(It's) something to look at for Adelaide. Hopefully I can do it a lot better and start helping this team win some games of cricket."

Smith is one of seven batsman Australia have used at No.4 in 18 games since George Bailey was dropped 12 months ago and his move down the order came a week after he'd backed Travis Head to stop the revolving door of players in the crucial position.

But after Head's recent dip in form continued with scores of five and seven in the first two games of the series, the skipper has taken it upon himself to fill the gap and strengthen the middle order.

While Smith has struggled to transfer his prolific consistency in Test cricket to the 50-over format, he is pleased with the way batting allrounders Mitchell Marsh and Marcus Stoinis have performed this series.

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Marsh, after scoring two Test centuries in the Magellan Ashes, has registered scores of 50, 36 and 55 this series, out on each occasion to leg-spinner Adil Rashid just as he was set to explode late in the innings.

Stoinis, batting one spot behind Marsh, has put together scores of 60, four and 56 at a high strike rate in a batting order that has failed to match England’s pyrotechnics.

"They’ve been really good," Smith said. "Stoin obviously played beautifully in the first game and tonight. He’s very calm and really backs his ability, which is what you want to see.

"Mitch is coming on in leaps and bounds in all forms of cricket. He’s got a great mindset at the moment, he seems really calm out in the middle.

"He’s coming a long way so that’s good signs for us."

2017-18 International Fixtures

Gillette ODI Series v England

Australia ODI squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Pat Cummins, Aaron Finch, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Mitchell Marsh, Tim Paine, Jhye Richardson, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Andrew Tye, Cameron White, Adam Zampa.

England ODI squad: Eoin Morgan (c), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Jake Ball, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Tom Curran, Alex Hales, Dawid Malan, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, David Willey, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.

First ODI England won by five wickets at the MCG

Second ODI England won by four wickets at the Gabba

Third ODI SCG, England won by 16 runs at the SCG

Fourth ODI Adelaide Oval, January 26. Tickets

Fifth ODI Perth Stadium, January 28. Tickets

Prime Minister's XI

PM's XI v England Manuka Oval, February 2. Tickets

Gillette T20 trans-Tasman Tri-Series

Australia T20 squad: David Warner (c), Aaron Finch (vc), Ashton Agar, Alex Carey, Ben Dwarshuis, Travis Head, Chris Lynn, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, D'Arcy Short, Billy Stanlake, Marcus Stoinis, Andrew Tye, Adam Zampa.

England T20 squad: Eoin Morgan (c), Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Tom Curran, Liam Dawson, Alex Hales, Chris Jordan, Dawid Malan, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, James Vince, David Willey, Mark Wood.

First T20I Australia v NZ, SCG, February 3. Tickets

Second T20I Australia v England, Blundstone Arena, February 7. Tickets

Third T20I Australia v England, MCG, February 10. Tickets

Fourth T20I NZ v England, Wellington, February 14

Fifth T20I NZ v Australia, Eden Park, February 16

Sixth T20I NZ v England, Seddon Park, February 18

Final TBC, Eden Park, February 21