Michael Clarke blasts Aussie selectors over 'embarrassing' Steve Smith move

The former cricket captain has been left gobsmacked by the controversial call ahead of Australia's tour of South Africa.

Steve Smith and Michael Clarke.
Michael Clarke has savaged the call to bring Steve Smith in as opener for the Aussie T20 side. Image: Getty

Michael Clarke has blasted Aussie selectors over an 'embarrassing' backflip that will see Steve Smith open the batting in upcoming T20 games against South Africa. Selection chair George Bailey revealed on Monday that Smith will move to the top of the order after unveiling a 14-man squad for the three-match series starting later this month.

With Aaron Finch announcing his retirement last year and Smith producing some incredible form as an opener for the Sydney Sixers in the BBL, Bailey said he was too hard to ignore. It will mark the first time that Smith opens the batting for Australia in T20 cricket.

HUGE CALL: Front-runner named to replace David Warner in Test side

'NOT JOKING': Nathan Lyon's staggering call on playing 2027 Ashes

“He’s the one guy out of that multi-format players heading across (for the T20s). We wanted to give him that opportunity,” Bailey said on Monday. “It was pretty exhilarating, his innings in the Big Bash, and I thought it highlighted the skill set he has and what he can do. The way he played in the Big Bash, we wanted to see that replicated internationally.

“He was really keen to come across and be a part of that. That may mean he has a rest through a couple of the one-dayers (against South Africa). Certainly excited to see him bring that Big Bash opening outlook into that role internationally.”

Michael Clarke blasts selectors' backflip on Steve Smith

But the decision to use Smith as an opener has been shredded by Clarke in light of the way he was largely overlooked at last year's T20 World Cup. Smith was only selected to play only game as the Aussies failed to progress to the semi-finals.

“I don’t understand (Smith’s selection) … that to me is embarrassing for the selectors,” Clarke said on Sky Sports radio on Tuesday. “They had him in the World Cup squad last year, and he couldn’t make the XI.

“He doesn’t get a game, we go terribly in the World Cup. Selections over the past 15 months have been absolutely confusing. Smith not playing in that World Cup, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

“There’s just no accountability. It’s just swept under the carpet. I feel like I’m just watching a different game. I don’t know what they’re thinking with Smithy in the T20s. I don’t think he’s playing any other T20 cricket around the world. He’s not getting a gig in the IPL, didn’t get picked up there. He must still want to play though.”

Steve Smith on the bench at last year's T20 World Cup.
Steve Smith was only picked to play one game at last year's T20 World Cup. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

Smith, who has batted anywhere from No.3 to No.9 in T20s for Australia, relaunched himself as an opener with back-to-back centuries in a short cameo for the Sixers at the end of last BBL season. He will now get the chance to lock down the spot at the top of the order for Australia for next year's T20 World Cup.

Who will join him at the top of the order against South Africa remains to be seen, with David Warner rested for the T20 portion of the tour. Warner will be back in action when Australia plays five ODIs against South Africa after the T20s.

Australia T20 squad:

Mitchell Marsh (c), Sean Abbott, Jason Behrendorff, Tim David, Nathan Ellis, Aaron Hardie, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Spencer Johnson, Glenn Maxwell, Matt Short, Steve Smith, Marcus Stoinis, Adam Zampa

Australia ODI squad:

Pat Cummins (c), Sean Abbott, Ashton Agar, Alex Carey, Nathan Ellis, Cameron Green, Aaron Hardie, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Tanveer Sangha, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, David Warner, Adam Zampa

T20s v South Africa:

  • August 31

  • September 2

  • September 3

ODIs v South Africa:

  • September 7

  • September 9

  • September 12

  • September 15

  • September 17

ODIs v India:

  • September 22

  • September 24

  • September 27

with AAP

Sign up to our newsletter and score the biggest sport stories of the week.