Saturday, November 25News That Matters

Domestic players must step up: Smith


Captain Steve Smith has urged those currently playing in the JLT One-Day Cup to “jump out of the pack” and put their hand up to help solve Australia’s current one-day malaise.

While Australia broke an 11-match losing streak with victory in Bengaluru last Thursday, their seven-wicket thrashing to India in Nagpur on Sunday underlined the problems they face ahead of their World Cup defence in 2019.

Key fast bowlers Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood missed the tour due to injury, but Australia were otherwise at full strength for a series they lost 4-1, albeit to a very strong Indian side.

The pace pair was adequately replaced by Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pat Cummins and Kane Richardson in any case, but there remain significant concerns over the batting line-up, the spin stocks and the identity of the No.1 wicketkeeper-batsman.

Smith says the run of losses away from home means those playing in the JLT Cup, which runs until October 21, now have a chance to push their way into the team.

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“There’s possibly a few guys back playing in the domestic one-day competition at the moment … who are going to put some pressure on the guys that are here,” he said.

“Our results haven’t been good enough and we want guys to perform consistently.

“We’ll have a good look at the one-day comp back home and hopefully a few guys jump out of the pack and get some really big runs and bowl really well as well.”

While Smith is not a selector, his words will be a boost to the likes of Shaun Marsh and Tom Cooper, who have both impressed in the opening stages of the JLT Cup, which started last Wednesday.

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The likes of Cameron White and Ed Cowan have both criticised selectors in the past for not rewarding strong domestic form, particularly in one-day cricket, with national call-ups.

Both have claimed the national side has in the past been treated like a “development team”, pointing to the ODI call-ups of Sam Heazlett earlier this year and Hilton Cartwright on this tour as examples of players earning selection despite underperforming in the corresponding domestic competitions.

“I’m just a little worried to be honest, on the importance the selectors are putting on domestic cricket,” White said in January after Queensland youngster Heazlett earned a shock call-up for the ODI tour of New Zealand.

“I grew up watching and dreaming of playing for Australia and thinking ‘how hard is it going to be to get a game for Australia and earn the absolute right?’.

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“Now it sort of seems like in some terms and some stages is a development team. For me, playing for Australia isn’t about giving you a chance to develop. Domestic cricket is where that happens and at Futures League.”

Cowan, who played 18 Tests between 2011 and 2013, agreed that the best performers in the one-day cup are often overlooked for higher honours.

“There are people who bust their guts in the domestic competition and blow it out of the water, they get one or two chances and then they’re sacked off,” Cowan told Fox Sports two weeks ago.

“They (the selectors) are picking guys based on who they want to pick. There’s no structure based around performance a lot of the time.”

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