TOWNSVILLE: Veteran Steve Smith is enjoying his revamped batting role and believes he can play a part in Australia’s title defence at the T20 World Cup to be held at home later this year, if he continues in the same vein.
Smith was pigeonholed as a sheet anchor in T20 cricket, including during Australia’s maiden T20 World Cup-winning campaign in the UAE last year.
However, during the tour of Sri Lanka in June, the 33-year-old was relieved from his ‘Mr. Fix It’ tag by the team management, giving him the green light to go and play freely.
“I feel like when I’m playing good T20 cricket, I’m in that team (T20 World Cup) for sure,” Smith was quoted as saying by cricket.com.au on Tuesday.
“The role that I’ve been given the last couple of years is the ‘Mr. Fix It’ role and that tag’s been taken away from me now.”
The right-hander feels he can now play his natural game in the shortest format without any hesitation.
“For the Sri Lanka tour, and I felt like I could go out and just play with a lot more freedom and naturally and not have any kind of hesitation in the back of my mind.
“I can just take the game on and if I want to smack someone for six first ball, then I’m able to do that freely,” Smith added.
With the emergence of the likes of Mitchell Marsh (who now occupies the No.3 spot that once belonged to Smith), Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis, Smith’s position had been rendered doubtful in T20s.
In the series against Sri Lanka, Smith batted twice in the three T20s, scoring five off four in the second match before playing an unbeaten 37 off 27 balls in the third game.
His strike rate from four innings this year has improved from 91.89 (in three innings during last year’s World Cup) to 120.37.
The T20 World Cup will be held in Australia from October 16 to November 13.