Australia v Sri Lanka T20 series: Marcus Stoinis defends Steve Smith’s role

One of Steve Smith’s T20 teammates says his spot in the Australian side should not be questioned and backed the Test vice-captain to feature at this year’s World Cup. Have your say.

All-rounder Marcus Stoinis has urged critics to look beyond the numbers when assessing Steve Smith’s T20 value as Australia prepare to complete a cleansweep of the Sri Lanka white-ball series at the MCG on Sunday.

Smith’s position in the Australian T20 team has come under added scrutiny in the past six months after a quiet World Cup, slower scoring rates and the added insult of being left unsold at the IPL mega auction having once been the competition’s $2m golden child.

While match-saving fielding heroics at the SCG last Sunday left Smith with a concussion and ruled him out of the remainder of the series, it’s given Josh Inglis an opportunity and renewed questions over the 32-year-old former skipper’s T20 future.

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But Stoinis said there was no such debate within the team, who were all aware of ‘Smudge’s’ ability to execute any role specific to the situation allowing the top order to attack the game fearlessly.

“I think it works on a few different fronts, it either gives people confidence that we’ve got arguably the best player of our generation there to mop things up with the bat if things don’t go to plan,” Stoinis said.

“It also means that say for example you do lose a couple of wickets in the power play he slides in and doesn’t expose someone like myself and Maxy who are there for a different type of role.

“You watch Smudge for example in the Big Bash and he is not there to fix it up, he is there to step across his stumps and hit sixes over square leg and hit inside out.

“He made a couple of hundreds off 60 balls in one-day cricket two years ago probably against India so we still know and don’t forget how quickly he can score.

“I think his cricket brain, how he understands the game and plays the situation in front of him we can sort of trust he is doing the right thing for the team in any situation.

“It’s a multifaceted sort of thing for Smudge. Even the other day you look at his fielding and what he did there and how he can speak to a bowler, there is so much you can’t measure but we definitely value Smudger.”

Marcus Stoinis has backed Steve Smith to be integral to Australia’s World Cup defence.
Marcus Stoinis has backed Steve Smith to be integral to Australia’s World Cup defence.

Stoinis said this current series would play a crucial role in Australia’s T20 World Cup defence later this year as it was exposing a greater depth of talent to international cricket.

Ben McDermott and Ashton Agar have both had opportunities opening the batting, while Inglis has relished in the No.5 role and all-rounder Daniel Sams has enjoyed getting his chance at this level.

The Australians may lead the series 4-0 but Stoinis wants them to round out the series with a complete performance.

“I think were going okay without putting total performance together,” he said.

“There’s been times we’ve bowled really well ... but we’re yet to probably put the complete performance together. We’re just doing enough but I also think we’re better than what we showed so far.”

Critics have questioned whether Steve Smith should be in the Aussie T20 team.
Critics have questioned whether Steve Smith should be in the Aussie T20 team.

SMITH SPEAKS OUT AFTER NASTY CONCUSSION

A spectacular near-save from Steve Smith on the boundary during Sunday night’s Super Over thriller against Sri Lanka left him concussed and will force the batting star out for the remainder of the five-match T20 International series.

The 32-year-old is now subject to low level protocols in coming days, but is expected to make a full recovery in the next six to seven days. There are currently no plans to replace him in the Australian squad.

The accident was an unpleasant reminder of the dangers concussion present in modern cricket, coming in the same week exciting Victorian youngster Will Pucovski was subbed out of his return Shield match.

“Thanks everyone for reaching out,” Smith said on social media on Monday morning. “My head has felt better but I will be ok.”

Watch The Dettol T20 Series Australia vs Sri Lanka. Every Game Live & On-Demand on Kayo. New to Kayo? Start your free trial now >

Australia's Steve Smith (C) gets medical attention after hitting his head against the ground in an attempt to catch the ball. Picture AFP
Australia's Steve Smith (C) gets medical attention after hitting his head against the ground in an attempt to catch the ball. Picture AFP

Smith, of course, has previously battled with concussion, famously missing the Headingley Test of the 2019 Ashes after a nasty blow from England speedster Jofra Archer at Lord’s.

Stationed at deep wicket, at the Randwick end, in the dramatic final stages of Sunday’s thriller, Smith threw himself into the air to save the Maheesh Theekshana six, successfully launching the ball back into play but failing to prevent the six with his one-handed mid-air attempt.

Replays showed his foot just touching the Toblerone padding as Smith leapt full-stretch into the air and across the rope.

Steve Smith flies through the air before crashing to the turf.
Steve Smith flies through the air before crashing to the turf.

Concern quickly turned to Smith’s welfare as he lay prone on the ground after his head rebounded heavily with the turf.

“(It all happened) pretty quickly when we were out there on the field,” said player-of-the-match Josh Hazlewood after taking 4-26 from his five overs, including a crucial 1-4 in the Super Over.

“I guess when anyone dives and doesn’t get up straight away, there is always a bit of concern. Good to see him walking around now and that he made his way off the field.”

Team management confirmed that Smith was moving around the dressing room during the Super Over for both teams and watched the final few overs from the Australian dressing room.

Originally published as Australia v Sri Lanka T20 series: Marcus Stoinis defends Steve Smith’s role

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