Smith banking on Maddinson
Australia skipper Steve Smith believes that his New South Wales teammate Nic Maddinson has the potential to be a match winner for Australia in Test matches.
Smith announced the starting XI for the final Test against South Africa which included Maddinson and two further uncapped players in Peter Handscomb and Matthew Renshaw.
Maddinson is a far cry from the kind of batsman Australia have claimed to be looking for, he is an aggressive strokemaker who has achieved success in the T20 format.
But Smith said of Maddinson: “I think on his day he can tear any attack apart.
“I think the selectors have given him an opportunity to come in and play at No. 6, and I guess sum up the conditions and play with a bit of freedom at the same time.
“I think he has developed his defence over the last couple of years, from what I have seen he has been playing the ball a lot later and a lot more under his eyes, which is a very good start.
“From there he has certainly got the shots to expand his game, so he’s going to continue to work hard and hopefully he can flourish in this system.”
Smith commands a much changed team and things have changed behind the scenes too with Chairman of selectors Rod Marsh taking the fall after Australia lost five Tests in a row.
The skipper went on: “We’ve obviously made a lot of changes and some young guys have come into the squad.
“I think it’s obviously this series has been disappointing the way it has gone for us. But I’m actually really excited now about the young guys coming into the group and what they bring.
“I’ve almost felt a little shift over the last couple of days in attitude and energy from what the new guys have brought in. I’m happy with the team that we’ve got, and I’m excited about all these young guys coming into the group and what they can bring to the team.”
Smith has indicated that the team will be focused on absorbing pressure and showing fight in the way they play.
He added: “I think the focus is more around attitude and being able to be more resilient and adaptable to whatever conditions that are out there and identifying periods of the game that are difficult and getting through those periods,” he said.
“I think recently we have struggled to identify the periods that are difficult and we have talked about them afterwards where there were moments where we could have done things better.
“It’s about trying to stay in the moment and identify those periods and get through those periods and when you do that things get easier.”
After a raft of changes Smith would like to see the team develop some continuity: “It’s a difficult one.
“You want guys to come in and perform and keep putting in those performances and be consistent. I think it’s a great opportunity to try and get a little bit of continuity with our team and try to make guys feel as comfortable as they can.
“I know when you feel comfortable and relaxed that’s the way you play your best cricket. It’s trying to get that feeling among the group, and make our mindsets right.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for me to stamp my authority on this team as the leader. I have talked a lot to the guys over the last couple of days about growth and trying to grow and learn as a team.
“Growth doesn’t happen overnight, so it could take some time, but I am confident that with the guys we have here that we can start turning our results around straightaway and start playing the way we want to play.”
Australia starting XI: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Matt Renshaw, Usman Khawaja, Peter Handscomb, Nic Maddinson, Matthew Wade (wk), Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Jackson Bird, Nathan Lyon.
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