Australia faces a test of its batting depth against India with an injury cloud hanging over its top order, Steve Smith said on Thursday.
Veteran opener David Warner has been ruled out of the first Test in Adelaide, while his likely replacement Will Pucovski is recovering from concussion after being hit by a bouncer during a tour match. With incumbent Joe Burns also struggling for runs, Smith said Australia would find out how well its batting reserves would cope.
“I think our depth is obviously going to be tested with Davey out and a few potentially new players coming in,” the former captain told reporters.
“It’ll test us out, no doubt, against a good Indian outfit .... They beat us out here last time and they’re a very good side. Whoever is up there and whoever is in the team hopefully we all do our job and can have a successful summer.”
Although omitted from the final pink-ball tour match starting in Sydney on Friday, uncapped Pucovski did not travel with the rest of the squad to Adelaide.
Pundits have offered various ideas about how Australia might cover for the 22-year-old if he is unavailable, including promoting No. 3 Marnus Labuschagne to open or even middle order batsman Matthew Wade.
No. 3 batting spot
Rarely comfortable with long waits to bat, Smith said he would be open to moving up a slot to No. 3.
“That doesn’t bother me too much, I’ve batted a fair bit at No. 3, so three or four. Any lower than four I wouldn’t be overly happy,” he said. “Anywhere up there I’m fine.”
The question of whether Smith will regain the captaincy has dogged Australian cricket since his leadership ban expired in March, two years after the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa.
Smith has been repeatedly overlooked in leadership roles in white-ball series this year, though coach Justin Langer admitted there were discussions about him potentially replacing Aaron Finch when the limited-overs captain was recently injured.
Wade ended up leading the T20 side and Langer said there was still “a process” to go through before Smith could be considered for the role.
Smith said he was unaware of the details of that process but would do whatever was “best for the team.”
“Right now I think (Test captain) Tim (Paine) and Finchy are doing really good jobs,” he said. “I'm comfortable where I'm at right now.”
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