Former Australian captain Michael Clarke has highlighted his concerns about the national team's selections ahead of the T20 World Cup. Clarke's comments come after Australia left out Steve Smith and played Cameron Green at the top against the West Indies despite the latter not being part of the T20 World Cup squad.
Australia shuffled their batting order in the first T20I against the West Indies on the Gold Coast, opening with Green and David Warner. Skipper Aaron Finch, who has struggled at the top, batted at No. 4 to let Green continue where he left off following an impressive series against India.
Speaking on Big Sports Breakfast, Clarke stated that Smith had to play to regain his T20I form and get more clarity on his batting position. The 41-year-old believes that Smith didn't play as Australia needed an extra bowling option. The former Aussie skipper explained:
"The most important thing right now is we prepare for this World Cup, so Steve Smith’s form in Twenty20 cricket over the last couple of years hasn’t been as good as he would like. He’s got to play. My theory is this, Mitch Marsh wasn’t bowling so they had to pick Cameron Green over Steve Smith to give us an extra bowling option, but what they’re doing is shooting themselves in the foot at the moment."
"He’s got to play and he’s got to own his role, is he going to bat 4, is he going to bat 3? You’ve got to let him play so even it if it means you play one bowler short in these games, I still think you’ve got to allow your players to play."
Ahead of the second T20I against the Windies in Brisbane, Smith opened up on his omission, stating that the hosts needed six bowling options. The 33-year-old also said that he remains unsure whether Australia will follow the same path moving forward.
"He will find a way to make runs" - Michael Clarke on Steve Smith
Clarke predicted that Smith could bat at No. 4 and wants him to play all the games leading up to the World Cup as he is too good a player to miss out on.
The World Cup-winning skipper added:
"Again, with Mitch Marsh they want him to bat at number 3, so Smith is going to be the one to bat at number 4, let him play these games, let him play every game so he goes into the World Cup at his best. He will find a way to make runs, he’s too good a player in any format, especially at a World Cup."
While Smith is one of the first-choice players in Tests and ODIs, the former Aussie skipper has struggled in the shortest format. His last T20I fifty came against Pakistan in November 2019.