George Bailey revealed that it was his idea to promote Steve Smith up the order at three in ODI cricket, prior to which the right-hander was used at six or seven. Bailey was a part of Australia’s successful 2015 WC campaign, where he even led the side against England in the absence of Clarke.
Having started the 2014 ODI tri-series against South Africa and hosts Zimbabwe at No.6, Smith was dropped for Clarke, who injured a hamstring before the start of the series. In his comeback game, Clarke re-injured his hamstring, meaning Smith was recalled for the next game against the Proteas and was elevated to No.3 for the first time. The masterstroke eventually paid off, as it kick-started the ODI career of the New South Welshman, and former Aussie skipper George Bailey has revealed that it was his idea to promote Smith – and not Mitch Marsh as originally planned – to the number three spot.
“I made a suggestion that it should be Steve Smith (at three) because at that time Mitch could, and still can, bludgeon the ball, but I couldn’t see him batting for the full innings, where I could see ‘Smudger’ (Smith) batting for 50 overs, making those key hundreds that you could bat around,” said Bailey, reported CRICKET.com.au.
In his first innings at first-drop in Australia’s ODI side, Smith posted 35 while it was Marsh, now batting at No.6, who was named player of the match for his rapid 86 from 51 balls and two wickets. Bailey said his claim to fame was promoting Smith up the order which, he believes, if not for him, someone or the other would’ve definitely done.
“My claim to fame, and no doubt he would have ended up there anyway, (but) we’d been using Steve Smith at six or seven in the one-day team and in Zimbabwe (the previous August-September) we threw Mitch Marsh up to three in a game. That recommendation was taken up and that played a huge part. Smudger was at three right throughout the World Cup and hasn’t moved since,” added Bailey.
Two innings and five weeks later, against Pakistan in Sharjah, Smith scored his maiden ODI century and locked in his place at No.3 for the World Cup. It also meant when Clarke did return from injury, it was Bailey, unfortunately, who had to make way.
Smith would go on to make 407 runs at 67 in the tournament and hit the winning runs in the final in front of a packed MCG before leaping into the arms of non-striker Shane Watson in jubilant celebration.
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