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Australia coach backs Steve Smith to stay on as opener for India series despite horror show in new role

Steve Smith’s move to play as a Test opener for Australia faces criticism after a poor run in New Zealand. Australia coach Andrew McDonald remains supportive of Smith. But can Smith bounce back against India?

Steve Smith’s reinvention as an opener in Tests for Australia has so far been a disaster, with the batter managing just 171 runs at an average of 28.50 since taking up the new role. Slotting in as an opener after David Warner’s Test retirement, Smith has managed to score just 51 runs at 12.75 during the recent Test tour of New Zealand.

But Smith has received crucial backing to continue in the role by Australia coach Andrew McDonald.

“Not to say there won’t be changes, but at the moment we’ve won 2-0 here (vs New Zealand), and had a 12-Test run where we won eight with (four) of those being away from home (in England and New Zealand),” McDonald was quoted as saying by ICC’s website.

Why Australia will back Steve Smith as an opener in Tests

“It’s going to be a hard group to infiltrate, it will take something special I think. No doubt everyone is still asking the question around Steve Smith. He is a great player and his ability to problem solve is one of his great strengths. He’s been challenged in these conditions as the surfaces have been new-ball wickets, and no doubt there will be a debate as to what his best position is.

“But he’s up for the challenge, and I think any time that Steve Smith fails he sees it as a greater challenge.”

McDonald said he expected Smith to come back as a better opener when the India series begins.

“Walking away here (in New Zealand) with 51 runs under his belt in tough conditions, that will no doubt drive him for the next challenge and that next challenge is India,” McDonald noted. “They await, and I think it will be an internal motivator for him. He wants to open, it’s a position that he came to us around and we think he can make it work.”

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