Steve Smith missed out on an early chance to showcase his skills as a Test cricket opener on Wednesday against the West Indies, before falling cheaply when he finally got a bat. Smith was elevated to open the batting for Australia to replace the retired David Warner, with Cameron Green winning a recall to bat at No.4.
Smith would have been keen for captain Pat Cummins to win the toss and bat first so he could get out in the middle straight away and begin life as an opener. But he was denied that chance on Wednesday as Cummins instead opted to send the Windies in under grey skies in Adelaide.
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It marked the first time since 1980 that an Australian captain has won the toss and bowled at the Adelaide Oval. "It looks like there's a little bit of grass on the wicket and (we'll) make first use of it," Cummins said after opting for the rare move.
West Indies captain Kraigg Brathwaite said he was unfazed, admitting he would have batted if he had called the toss correctly anyway. "It does have a bit of grass but it looks a good pitch," he said.
Speaking on Channel 7, Justin Langer said he was surprised. "You used to always arrive at Adelaide Oval as an opening bat or top order batsman, if you win the toss it was a dream come true because there was no better place in the world to bat," Langer said.
"Then it deteriorated over time and became a lot harder to bat on (as the match went on). Pat Cummins has obviously seen the grass this morning and overhead conditions and decided (to bowl), which is most unusual.
"He keeps shocking us, Pat Cummins ... to be fair to Pat Cummins he has had the Midas touch. He did it (bowled first) in the World Cup final and we were all surprised by that. Then he did it at the start of the summer, batted first in Perth on a wicket we were certain he would bowl first on."
Brett Lee backed the call on Fox Cricket, saying: “I think it’s a great call, I think it’s the right call. Aussies to set the tone first and get that opportunity with this brand new ball.”
that groan from the crowd as soon as pat said bowl hahah
— Lenny Phillips (@lenphil29) January 16, 2024
Smith last week said he wanted to open because he doesn't like waiting. Today Cummins made him wait even longer by choosing to bowl first. 🤣🤣🤣
— Anusharan Lama (@AnusharanL) January 16, 2024
Woke up early tto watch Steve Smith open the batting need to wait now hope westindies get bowled out early and Aussie bat soon
— Suraj Raheja (@_CricketFreak_) January 16, 2024
Steve Smith’s ‘I don’t like to wait to bat’ very funny rn
— Matt Parker (@zoonmattau) January 16, 2024
The bold move paid off straight away. Cummins managed to get Tagenarine Chanderpaul (six) to edge one in the air towards gully, with Green snaffling a brilliant catch high and to his left to leave the Windies 1-13. He then bowled Kraigg Brathwaite (13) with a peach of a ball as the tourists slipped to 2-27.
— 7Cricket (@7Cricket) January 17, 2024
Steve Smith goes cheaply in first outing as Test opener
Halfway through the second session they were six down for 100, and some late rearguard action took them to 188 all out. When Smith finally got his chance to bat he was dismissed for just 12, as life as a Test opener began in ignominious fashion.
Debutant Shamar Joseph, who made 36 with the bat, continued his memorable day by removing Smith with his first ball in Test cricket. The 24-year-old also had a Marnus Labuschagne caught on the fine leg boundary for 10 as Australia went to stumps 2-59.
Josh Hazlewood, who took four wickets including his 250th in Test cricket, said after play: "We thought the wicket was going to do the most this morning. A lot of people play Shield games here with the red ball and think it gets flatter as the game goes on so the best time to probably take 10 wickets is straight up, if we get it right. To get 10 (wickets) today backed up that decision."
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