Steve Smith's huge captaincy admission after vital win in India
The stand-in skipper made his intentions clear after the victory over India.
Steve Smith has admitted he has no desire to take over the full-time captaincy role from Pat Cummins after Australia's historic victory against India at Indore in the third Test of the Border-Gavaskar series. Australia won a chaotic third Test of cricket with 30 wickets falling across the first two days of play.
However, Australia was left just 76 runs to chase on Day three after a Nathan Lyon masterclass during India's second innings. And the Aussies didn't allow a second innings collapse - like in Nagpur and Delhi - as they cruised to an nine-wicket victory.
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The victory means Australia can level the series in India, a feat that would put this Australian team amongst the greats. However, up until Indore, the series has pushed the Aussie team to their limit with David Warner, Josh Hazlewood and captain Cummins all returning home for various reasons.
Cummins came under scrutiny in the two previous Test matches for his captaincy with great Ian Healy calling for the quick to step down and focus on his bowling. However, when it was posed to Smith on whether he would desire more chances in the future, the mercurial batter was adamant over his role in the team going forward.
"My time as captain is done. This is Patty's team," Smith said. This isn't to say the tactically astute batter didn't enjoy his time.
When pushed about why he relishes the captaincy role, Smith pointed to India's conditions as the reason he enjoys the challenge.“I really enjoyed this week. "I like captaining in this part of the world. I feel like I understand the conditions really well and the intricacies of the game,” Smith added in the post-match ceremony.
“There’s an event every ball … it’s a lot different to the other parts of the world. I think I did a reasonable job this week.”
Captaining in Tests in India is like a game of chess & Steve Smith got all his pieces in perfect order during this Test. No wonder he talks about India being his favourite place to captain in. Beating India in India is more than a win. It’s an achievement #IndvAus pic.twitter.com/d6K4AcKMeS
— Bharat Sundaresan (@beastieboy07) March 3, 2023
Steve Smith was singing his team's praises after win, which he said made up for the horror collapse in Delhi. "They are pretty hard to come by (wins in India)," acting captain Steve Smith said.
"For us to get on top in this game, particularly after losing the toss and fielding first as well, it shows the talent in this group and the belief we've got in ourselves. We screwed up, I suppose, in Delhi is one way to put it.
"We had an opportunity there and let that slip, but we had a good break and a good preparation coming here and it was just about getting our mental states right."
A chase of less than 100 would ordinarily have been straightforward, but the pitch spinning and bouncing sharply meant Australia started day three with some apprehension.
Aussie great Mark Waugh said on Fox Sports the victory will go down as one of the "best ever" considering the adversity the team has faced on this tour. India were dismissed for 109 and 163, while Australia's first innings of 197 ended with a dramatic collapse of 6-11.
Usman Khawaja's first innings of 60 was vital across the three days, but he wasn't able to add to his toatl when he dismissed for a second-ball duck after nicking a Ravichandran Ashwin delivery to wicketkeeper KS Bharat.
Travis Head and Marnus Labuschagne played within themselves after some strong spin attack for the first 10 overs. However, the duo then attacked the spinner, smashing several quick boundaries to ease any tension in Australia's dressing room.
Head's unbeaten 49 came from just 53 balls, adding evidence that he plays his best in Asia batting at the top of the order following his promotion to open after David Warner's exit from the tour.
Ian Healy's huge call for Pat Cummins
Cummins has an exemplary record as captain of Australia since taking over in 2021. The fast bowler was always going to face a tough task in winning back the Border-Gavaskar trophy in India, a feat that hasn't been achieved since 2004.
However, Cummins' captaincy has been called into question a number of times during the series in India, with Mark Waugh and Michael Clarke both questioning some of his field placements and bowling changes in the second Test. Speaking on SEN radio this week, Healy expressed his fears that Cummins' bowling would suffer as a result of the 'burden' of being captain.
“I don’t want him carrying the burden of so much captaincy for too long,” Healy said. “I want him to finish (as just a bowler).
“The captaincy creates a burnout and four to five years is a long time as a captain. He’s done a few years already, now he’s adding (short-form captaincy) to his thought processes at a time when he’s dealing with some sort of family illness back home. So yeah, I would like to see him finish his career as a tearaway fast bowler and someone else with the captaincy burden.”
Healy said he believes Travis Head would make a good Test captain, but was unsure if there were any other potential skippers waiting in the wings.
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