Former Test captain Michael Clarke has slammed the decision from Australian selectors to omit Steve Smith from recent T20 fixtures, less than two weeks out from their first World Cup match.
The 33-year-old was left out of the first match with the West Indies last week, and was again forced to carry the drinks during Sunday night’s loss to England.
Smith has been omitted in favour of Cameron Green, despite the all-rounder not being named in Australia’s T20WC squad for the upcoming tournament.
Speaking on Big Sports Breakfast, Clarke said the selectors have bungled the Smith-Green selection dilemma and believes both men should have been picked in the squad.
“They’ve made a mistake in not picking Cameron Green…it’s as simple as that,” Clarke said.
“My only concern is they’ve been giving Cameron Green every opportunity, I don’t know why they haven’t given Steve Smith that opportunity.
“Steve Smith can open the batting in T20 cricket. He’s in the squad, he’s a big chance of playing in this World Cup so surely you need him batting, making runs, in form.
“At this stage, Cameron Green’s not in the World Cup…that’s what has been a little strange.”
Green has shown his ability in the T20 arena in recent weeks, but was not named in the initial squad and therefore can’t be picked for the first game against New Zealand on October 22nd.
Smith on the other hand has been named in the squad and featured in Australia’s maiden title last year, which is why Clarke believes he needs time in the middle prior to the tournament.
“They took Steve Smith to Western Australia, flew him to Perth to make him 12th man – that’s not right,” Clarke said.
“Don’t tell me Steve Smith has to bat No.3 or No.4…If he opens the batting, he will be the leading run-scorer in the T20 World Cup. He’s still that good a player.
“The number four position is the unknown … who’s batting at four? If it’s Smithy, you’ve got to give him some cricket. As good as he is, I’d rather him walk out in the first game in the first World Cup game with some form, with some runs under his belt.
“I think that’s the position that they’re unsure of at the moment and that’s really going to come down to the style.
“My reason always for [picking] someone like a Steve Smith in your team is because not all conditions are the same, if we lose two for not many, you’ve got one of the world’s best batsmen coming in.
“Steve smith can save you a game as well, he can find you a way of getting to 170 and have a total to defend rather than being bowled out for 100. I still think in T20 cricket you need one of those players in your top-six batsmen.”
The other dilemma facing selectors heading into the tournament is skipper Aaron Finch, who hasn’t been setting the world on fire in recent months and has been shuffled around the order during the warm-up games.
Clarke said the decision to move Finch away from his usual opening role isn’t ideal heading into the T20WC.
“Even playing around with Finchy, why’s he batting at number four if he’s going to open in the World Cup…that’s silly to me,” he said.
“Five games out from a World Cup, you’ve got to try and stabilise everything.”