"It's going to be very difficult for Australia to change now" - Mark Taylor backs side to continue with Steve Smith as opener in Tests

New Zealand v Australia - Men
Smith has struggled with the bat as opener in Tests

Former Australian captain Mark Taylor has backed the team to continue with Steve Smith as a Test opener despite his slump in form.

Post David Warner's retirement following the home series against Pakistan, Smith has taken on the mantle at the top of the order in the subsequent series against the West Indies and New Zealand. Despite the Aussies winning three out of the four Tests, including a 2-0 win in New Zealand, the 34-year-old has endured a horrific run of form opening the batting.

Speaking to the World Wide of Sports, Taylor felt Australia had no option but to continue with Smith as the opener, considering the team's success.

"The two Test matches were played on pitches that were certainly bowler-friendly and I think that point needs to be made. It's going to be very difficult for Australia to change now, to be totally honest ... I think the die is cast. I think they are going to have to stick that way, because if they want to bring in an opener now, someone is going to have to miss out," said Taylor.
"You make a change in a team if you think you can make the team better, that's the bottom line. The side is finding ways to win. There will be no rush by Australians selectors to make a change to our batting order. I think Australia will stick with what they're doing and stick with Steve Smith to open the batting next summer," he added.

Since opening the batting, Smith has scored only 171 runs in four Tests at a paltry average of under 29 with a lone half-century.

In contrast, his overall numbers make for sensational reading, with 9,685 runs at an average of 56.97, including 32 centuries.

"Any time that Steve Smith fails he sees it as a greater challenge" - Andrew McDonald

Australia Nets Session
Australia Nets Session

Australian head coach Andrew McDonald defended Steve Smith for his diminishing returns as an opener and backed the champion batter to come good in their home summer.

The Aussies' next Test assignment will be the highly-anticipated five-match series against India at home in December.

When asked about Smith's worrying form after Australia's series win in New Zealand, McDonald said:

"No doubt everyone is still asking the question ... he is a great player and his ability to problem solve is one of his great strengths. I think it's unfair, and that will probably mean I'm going into defensive mode around my player. I don't think it's deserved. He'll be able to work through that. He's been challenged in these conditions. He's up for the challenge, and I think any time that Steve Smith fails he sees it as a greater challenge."

Smith had endured a dip in form even before his opening stint, evidenced by his average of only 42.22 in 13 games last year.

Nevertheless, he helped the side triumph in last year's World Test Championship final against India with a brilliant 121 in the first innings.

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Edited by Samya Majumdar
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