Steven Smith, Australia's latest 'kid' on the block, is poised for a contract upgrade for serving the national team with aplomb during the recently-concluded Test series against India. At a time when many see the 25-year-old as Australia's next Test full-time captain, Smith batted India out of the series by scoring a record 769 runs with a stunning average of 128.16. Smith, the highest scorer of the four-match contest, was the Man of the Series. (Clarke Should Have Got More Time to Recover: Hussey)
According to a report in the Herald Sun, Smith will enter the elite group when Cricket Australia reviews players' contracts after the World Cup ends in March. In the form of his life, Smith could become Australia's No. 1 player if he holds his form in the 50-over World Cup. (Maxwell Says he Was Desperate for World Cup Berth)
Top Australian players each earn close to 2 million Dollars a season. Two decades ago, top Aussie players like Allan Border earned all of $90,000. When the contracts were announced last April, five players - Michael Clarke, Mitchell Johnson, Brad Haddin, David Warner and Ryan Harris - were handed Grade 1 contracts and Smith was just behind them. All that could change in April with Smith proving to be real value for money.
When Clarke pulled out due to injury, the call to promote Smith as Australia's Test skipper ahead of the more experienced Haddin was a masterstroke by the Australian selectors, led by former wicket-keeper Rodney Marsh. Smith's 'Bradmanesque' average has only proved that he is going to serve Australian cricket for long and deserves to treated with respect. (India a Threat in World Cup: Hussey)
Smith is in no hurry to grab all the spotlight. He has age on his side and still remains the "stand-in" captain. Although there have been suggestions that the New South Wales cricketer should lead in all formats even after Clarke returns, it is unlikely Australia's selectors will rush him into captaincy in all formats.
Smith himself is in no hurry. He is perfectly happy to play under George Bailey in the World Cup starting February 14. (India-Australia in Tussle for Top ODI Spot Ahead of World Cup)
"I think George has done a terrific job in Michael's absence in the one-day form of the game." Smith told Sky Sports Radio on Wednesday. "He's going to lead this side throughout this one-day series and the World Cup and I'll be doing everything I can to support him. We've got a great squad together," he said.
Smith said Tasmanian Bailey deserved to lead and the mutual respect for each other will only help drive the team better in the tri-nation series with India and England, starting January 16. Bailey will need Smith's inputs for the tri-series. Australia's fielding in the last two Tests was a worry in the Test series and Smith has no hesitation in accepting this.
"It is un-Australian, we pride ourselves a lot on our fielding and we've certainly got to do better. If we took those catches we probably would have won in Melbourne and we'd have won in Sydney as well," said Smith.
"It's about going back to the drawing board I guess and getting the basics right, I think that's the biggest thing. We've got a few training sessions before the one-dayers and we have a very good one-day fielding team so hopefully we can improve our standards and get ourselves to where we want to be."