Smith: 'Australia need to reinvent themselves'

Australian captain Steve Smith wants to see his team prove it can adapt to the differing conditions and change up its approach in the final Test against Sri Lanka.

SteveSmith - cropped

Australian captain Steve Smith acknowledged his players can still do a lot to improve.

Steve Smith has called on Australia's batsmen to reinvent themselves ahead of the third Test against Sri Lanka in Colombo, which begins on Saturday.

Sri Lanka has already taken an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series, with Australia struggling to face up to spin on turning subcontinental wickets. Australia's top score on the tour is 203 and was achieved in Pallekele, while innings of 106 and 183 led to the crushing 229-run defeat in the second Test in Galle.

Although victory may not be enough to save their number one ranking, captain Smith wants to see his team prove it can adapt to the differing conditions and change up its approach. "Looking at this wicket it looks like it's going to take a fair bit of spin from day one, so you have to be proactive in the way you play. You almost have to reinvent your game to be successful on these surfaces.

"In Australia, you don't get balls that are turning like they are here and skidding on. Everything's pretty consistent, so it's finding a way, I guess, and getting outside your comfort zone. It's just having the courage and faith to sometimes take a risk you may not take in Australia, and different ways of thinking to get around different situations."

In Galle, Australia was undone by a variety of shots, but the frequency of reverse sweeps from Sri Lanka starkly contrasted their more rigid approach. Smith highlighted that as one potential way for his team to improve in the third and final Test.

"You do need to be proactive in your thinking, finding a way to get off strike, get down the other end [because] if you are down there, you can't get out," he continued. "Finding ways to get off strike and know where your boundaries are as well; that is something that the Sri Lankan batters have done pretty well. They've swept our spinners well, have reverse swept our spinners for boundaries and it's been difficult to contain them."

After being critical of team selection following the hammering in Galle, Smith acknowledged the players can still do a lot to improve. "We still have a lot of work to do. We have to work a lot harder and find ways to be successful in all conditions around the world," said the captain.

"We've got to prove to ourselves that we can play in these conditions. To win the last Test match [in Sri Lanka], that will give us a little bit of confidence."

Key Opta stats:

- Australia has mustered just one Test win in its last 17 attempts in Asia (D4 L12); losing their last eight there.
- Sri Lanka will complete a whitewash if it win this final Test. Only three times previously it has achieved a series whitewash (three or more games in a series), twice in 2001 against West Indies and Zimbabwe and against Bangladesh in 2007.
- This will be the fifth time these sides have met at the Sinhalese Sports Club Ground in Colombo; Sri Lanka has failed to claim victory across any of the previous four encounters at the venue (D2 L2).
- Steve Smith (3,972) needs 28 runs to reach 4,000 in Test cricket. Of players to score as many runs as the Australian captain only five have a higher average (58.4), none of whom have played since 1968.

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