HENRY: Smith’s appointment means it’s time for the tyros

Geoff Lawson Columnist

By Geoff Lawson, Geoff Lawson is a Roar Expert

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    The Nathan Lyon inspired victory in Adelaide will not be repeated in Brisbane – that’s the 12 wickets bit, not necessarily the victory bit.

    The grass will be greener, the footmarks will not be as deep and the finger spinners will not be reaping the rewards of close-in fieldsmen suffocating prodding batsmen and deafening umpires with appeals.

    The ‘Gabba Test will produce a different style of match, but hopefully maintain a number of quality batting and bowling performances, as well as a good dose of tension on day five.

    Virat Kholi may well fancy a true ‘Gabba surface even more than the batting paradise at North Adelaide.

    Peter Siddle should warm the pine as Josh Hazlewood would be a handful with his height, bounce and pace.

    It is time for the tyros.

    The Marsh brothers together, a new batting order and a new captain – an Australian victory has rarely produced so many changes in the XI.

    I have to admit to being a little surprised at the elevation of Steven ‘Smudger’ Smith to the most important office in the country, but pleasantly surprised as well.

    Brad Haddin as the wise old head of the operation seemed to be the obvious candidate to lead the national team in Brisbane, especially as the Michael Clarke career obituary looked a tad premature.

    Plan A was to have Haddin as the short to medium term skipper with Smith as the intern gaining experience along the Test and ODI path with a view to taking the throne if Michael Clarke’s body failed to heal.

    That plan contained a lot of rational thinking and would give Smith time to grow into the leadership role and for Haddin to phase out of the team on a high note while serving as a leader in all senses of the word.

    Brad Haddin is one of the most selfless players in the land, he has no desire to “leave a legacy” or be remembered for his captaincy record, he is man who wants to play hard and fair and win every game he plays.

    Brad was an outstanding captain of New South Wales until his position was usurped in a part of the deal that brought Simon Katich to Sydney after his disaffection with Western Australia cricket. Haddin graciously stood aside then for the benefit of Bluebag cricket and there is no doubt that had he been given the Australian big ‘C’ he would not have followed the example of more recent office holders who clung on by their fingernails.

    If that was the concern of the national selectors and CA Board (and possibly a reason for bypassing the wicketkeeper) then their fears were ill founded. Having said that, Steve Smith is an excellent captaincy election.

    I saw his captaincy up close during last season’s Sheffield Shield final where he combined some classy batting with cool, calm decision making. He lead that team quietly and effectively.

    He is not one to get into arm waving, finger pointing and insistent vocal tones. I can’t foresee any remonstrations with opposing players that characterised Steve Waugh, Ricky Ponting or Michael Clarke’s reigns.

    A little less noise on the field won’t hurt the game. That is not to say that he isn’t a tough competitor for he has proven that he can personally do the business under pressure and he has been an integral part of winning teams – the Shield final being a case in point.

    Fortunately his form has been outstanding and I think his run scoring and consistency over the past 12 months would have weighed heavily in the discussion. His infectious fussiness and fidgeting will be satirised but will also be his own idiosyncratic watermark, it gives him a shadow of comic relief which reflects his demeanour – his smile is genuine and a scowl rare, brief and quizzical.

    The game could do with some lightening up at the moment and Steve Smith’s creative and unaffected style of getting on with the game could be just what the doctor ordered.

    I hope he bowls himself more often than not, too.

    Geoff Lawson
    Geoff Lawson

    Geoff Lawson OAM is a former Australian cricketer and the former coach of the Pakistan cricket team. Nicknamed "Henry" after the Australian poet, Lawson was a fast bowler for New South Wales and Australia.

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    The Crowd Says (20)

    • Roar Guru

      December 16th 2014 @ 9:25am
      Chris Kettlewell said | December 16th 2014 @ 9:25am | ! Report

      I actually think Smith will be the sort of player, like Clarke, who revels in having that responsibility and just keeps getting better, rather than the sort who would struggle under the pressure. He seems to thrive on a challenge and has a great deal of determination under those baby-faced looks.

    • December 16th 2014 @ 9:29am
      Dan said | December 16th 2014 @ 9:29am | ! Report

      Agreed 100%

      Comment from The Roar’s iPhone app.

    • December 16th 2014 @ 9:30am
      TriangleFlatDog said | December 16th 2014 @ 9:30am | ! Report

      While I applaud Smith’s selection as captain, I just hope his form doesn’t suffer with the responsibility of the captaincy on his young shoulders

    • December 16th 2014 @ 10:53am
      Mike said | December 16th 2014 @ 10:53am | ! Report

      I think he will be a beauty and if he is being endorsed by Mr Pointing and Mr Chappell then I am an sure they know a hell of lot more than me so looking forward to watching the test tomorrow on my Birthday, yeah nice way to spend the day.

      Good Luck Steve Smith Australia is with you.


      • Roar Rookie

        December 16th 2014 @ 2:37pm
        Ross Fleming said | December 16th 2014 @ 2:37pm | ! Report

        My prediction is that Stephen Smith will prove a great captain. He has grown into an accomplished cricketer who exudes confidence. It will be unsurprising if he doesn’t resemble Michael Clarke in his willingness to try unorthodox tactics. With some players you just get that gut feeling that they will take up captaincy without breaking stride. Would also love to see now some younger batsman coming in with the likes of Khawjaa, Burns and Carters given a good run. Khwaaja in particular is one like Hughes who just needs a extended run to show his class. Watch out for the Indians bouncing back in the coming game. Great to see Starc back in the X1 again.

    • December 16th 2014 @ 11:57am
      Shortfineleg said | December 16th 2014 @ 11:57am | ! Report

      It was a brave decision by selectors – and I applaud them for it!

      I just wish they would extend that bravery when selecting batsmen – Burns is ready.

    • December 16th 2014 @ 12:22pm
      Craig Watson said | December 16th 2014 @ 12:22pm | ! Report

      Smithy has proven he thrives on pressure as purely a batsman. So I see no reason why he would not carry that same steadfast attitude into his captaincy. Couple of things that puzzle me about Smithy. Those constant equipment adjustments and annoying patting of the helmet before he fronts up to a bowler. The other is where did he get that quirky nickname of Smudge? Is he a fan of the Aussie rock band that bears that name. The dictionary definition of smudge is a ‘smokey fire’ to ward off mosquitos or safeguard fruit trees from frost. Would love the get the answers to both some questions.

      • December 16th 2014 @ 12:30pm
        soapit said | December 16th 2014 @ 12:30pm | ! Report

        apparently mike hussey gave him the nickname after playing with another smith in england who had that nickname. he said on the cricket the other day he thought all smiths were nicknamed smudge (difficult to tell how much he was joking about that)

        • December 16th 2014 @ 2:23pm
          Gooner said | December 16th 2014 @ 2:23pm | ! Report

          Correct. In England if your a sportsman with the last name smith. Your nickname=smudger

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