Smith can go on to bigger and better things

Last Updated: Sat, Mar 16, 2013 04:26 hrs

Australia’s strong start to the third Test in Mohali was just what the doctor ordered, but unfortunately once again the middle order failed to capitalise on the good start.

After a difficult series-to-date and obvious off-field issues which interrupted the preparation for this Test, it was pleasing to watch Ed Cowan and Dave Warner get the boys off to a strong start.

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Back-to-back wickets by Jadeja will not have pleased Michael Clarke, particularly his own scalp, but it was time for the other boys in the top order to step up and share some of the load. India’s bowlers bowled extremely well in the second and third sessions and would have been happy with their days work.

Considering a day has already been lost to the rain, Australia must find a way to push their total well past the 300 mark, and from there, the Australian attack must be aggressive right from the start. The wicket in Mohali looks like a good batting wicket so the bowlers are going to have to work hard to dismiss this strong Indian batting line up.

Michael Clarke has gone with a good balance with his left and right arm fast bowlers, in addition to the two spinners. He’ll utilise Moises Henriques’ medium pace and there’s also the potential for Steve Smith to bowl some leggies, with Warner’s variation an option as well.

Looking at the other selections, Brad Haddin coming into the side offers experience and a hard edge, which should benefit Australia, considering the boys who were left out. Smith’s inclusion provides an opportunity to stake his claim after some time away from the Test arena. He has a good all-round game and should be comfortable with the Indian conditions after a couple of stints with Pune in the IPL.

The thing that has impressed me about his innings thus far is his patience. A natural stroke player, he came in after three quick wickets and needed to steady the ship. I expect him to take a lot of confidence out of this innings and go on to bigger and better things.

So, the challenge is there for the Australians. Poor performances and individual suspensions have the microscope glaring down on the team, and it’s now up to them to react in a positive fashion. I’m hoping the criticism that has come their way brings the side closer together. Character is always shown during tough times, and despite the difficulties of the last few days, this is the perfect chance to show the world that Australia remains a force in world cricket.

Before I finish, I’d like to pass on my congratulations to Shane Watson and his wife Lee, who welcomed a baby boy, Will, on Thursday. Once his family is settled, I’m looking forward to seeing him back in the Australian team where he belongs.

Professional Management Group

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