Former Australian cricket captain Michael Clarke has expressed his frustration over the omission of Steve Smith from the national T20 World Cup squad last year. Clarke criticized the selectors for their “embarrassing” decision and questioned their selection policy.
Australia couldn’t make it to the top four despite having home advantage during the Men’s T20 World Cup 2022. Steve Smith was part of the team, however, he was given no chance to play the game due to the selector’s interest in hard hitting batters.
Smith was dropped from the T20 side due to his underwhelming performance in the shortest format of the game. Despite batting in the top four, he failed to score a half-century in 23 consecutive T20I matches. His last fifty came in November 2019 against Pakistan.
Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, Smith has averaged 19.23 in T20Is with a strike rate of 115.41. Only Ben McDermott has a lower strike rate among recognized Australian batters during that period.
During the recent 2021 T20 World Cup, Smith scored 69 runs in four matches at a strike rate of 97.18. This is the big reason why he was axed from the squad for the upcoming T20 series against South Africa to make way for Tim David.
Clarke pointed out that Smith’s recent performances in the Big Bash League showcased his T20 skills. Smith scored back-to-back centuries while opening for the Sydney Sixers last season. His innings of 101 and 125 remain the highest scores by a Sixers player in BBL history. He was the first SS batter to score a century in Big Bash League.
With the retirement of former captain Aaron Finch, an opening slot became available in the national T20 side. Chair of selectors George Bailey confirmed that Smith would open the batting in the upcoming T20 series against South Africa, taking over Finch’s role.
Michael Clarke expressed his confusion and frustration with the selection policy regarding Steve Smith, stating that he didn’t understand Smith’s previous omission from the World Cup squad. He criticized the lack of accountability and called the selections over the past 15 months “absolutely confusing.”
“I don’t understand the selection of Steve Smith, that to me is embarrassing for the selectors. They had him in the World Cup squad last year, and he couldn’t make the XI. He doesn’t get a game, we go terribly in the World Cup. Smith not playing in that World Cup, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.”
Clarke also questioned Smith’s participation in T20 cricket around the world, as he has not been able to secure a spot in the IPL. However, he acknowledged that Smith must still have the desire to play T20 cricket.
Ultimately, Clarke’s comments highlight the disagreement and confusion surrounding Smith’s selection and emphasize the need for transparency and clear decision-making in Australian cricket.
There is no clarity of thought in the selection process of these players. A few months back, it appeared that the selection criteria was purely based on a player’s performance in different T20 franchise leagues.