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Steve Smith speaks out after Mitchell Johnson goes public with startling new claim

The retired Australian cricket great isn't afraid to give his opinion, and Smith is his latest target.

Mitchell Johnson and Steve Smith.
Mitchell Johnson reckons he knows why Steve Smith doesn't just give T20 cricket away. Image: Getty

Steve Smith has insisted he's "not too fussed" if he's not selected for the T20 World Cup despite startling new claims from Mitchell Johnson that he's chasing "pay cheques" in the shorter format. Smith is long odds to win a spot in Australia's squad for the T20 World Cup in June after he failed to impress in two games against New Zealand last week.

Australia swept the series 3-0, but Smith failed in his final audition for the World Cup. The 34-year-old made 11 and four while opening the batting, and doesn't have a contract for the upcoming IPL so won't be playing any more T20 cricket.

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Smith's best position in T20s is opening the batting, but with David Warner, Travis Head and Mitch Marsh all ahead of him in the pecking order it will be hard for selectors to include him in the World Cup squad. And with Matt Short impressing over the last few years, Smith is unlikely to be a reserve batter either.

Smith's record in Test and ODI cricket is exemplary, but he has never really cracked the code of T20 cricket. Some have suggested he should give T20s away and focus on the more traditional formats, but Johnson has floated a stunning suggestion as to why he hasn't.

Steve Smith, pictured here in the third T20 against New Zealand.
Steve Smith failed to impress against New Zealand. (AFP via Getty Images)

“I wonder if international T20 cricket is something he really wants to play,” Johnson wrote in a column for The Nightly. “Of course, he will most likely play in a few different leagues around the world when his Test career is over and so maybe there is a dangling carrot in that he wants to perform at international level and at a World Cup to boost his chances of playing in leagues where he can earn himself big pay cheques.”

Discussing the situation on Tuesday, Smith admitted he probably won't make the squad but said he isn't losing sleep over it. "I think they're pretty settled up top, to be honest, with Head, Warner and Marsh in the top three," he said. "I'm not really sure what (selectors) want to do. I'm not really too fussed either way. If I'm there, I'm there. If I'm not, I'm not."

In regards to his double failure against the Kiwis, Smith pointed out that he fell to two good balls from Adam Milne and Lockie Ferguson. "I got a couple of decent balls to be fair," he told AAP. "Milne got one to take off in the second game, which was tough.

"Lockie, when that sun was setting, it was quite difficult to pick up and he gave me a nice in-swinger. Look, it wasn't ideal, but it is what it is and whatever will be will be from here."

Matthew Wade's grim comments about Steve Smith

Speaking on Monday, veteran wicket-keeper Matthew Wade painted a grim picture for Smith. "Smitty hasn't played a heap of T20 cricket in the last little bit for Australia," he said. "Fingers crossed he makes it but there's there's always going to be someone that's unlucky."

Selectors are facing a number of tricky calls in order to come up with a 15-man squad. Nathan Ellis and Spencer Johnson are heaping pressure on first-choice bowlers Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc, while Wade is also in a battle with Josh Inglis to take the gloves.

"If you look at my last three years, especially since the '21 World Cup, my numbers speak for themselves in that role at seven and finishing," Wade said. "I want to be playing. I want to be starting ... I know what it takes to win a World Cup.

"Spence (Spencer Johnson) has played a couple of games now and ticked every box. Then you've got guys like Nathan (Ellis) who come in and every time he gets an opportunity, he does really, really well. It's going to be tight for those last few spots ... but we're happy that we've got so much depth."

with AAP

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