Brisbane: One of the youngest ever to take over as Australia's Test captain, all-rounder Steve Smith today said getting elevated to the position was an "amazing thrill" even as he promised to be an aggressive and positive leader in the ongoing Test series against India.
Smith was named captain today owing to regular skipper Michael Clarke's injury breakdown during the first Test which the hosts won by 48 runs. "I am only a temporary solution at the moment since Michael is out injured unfortunately," the 25-year-old Smith told reporters after his appointment today.
Steven Smith. Pic/ AFP
"It's been a pretty whirlwind 18 months for me personally and for the team and for this to come up so quickly, it's an amazing thrill, something that I guess I have always dreamt of doing," he said.
Smith, aged 25 years and 195 days, becomes Australia's youngest Test captain since Kim Hughes took over the leadership in March 1979 at 25 years and 57 days. He is the third-youngest in Australian cricket history to get the job -- behind Ian Craig who was just 22 when he took over in 1958.
The all-rounder, who smashed 162 not out in the first innings and was 52 not out in the second essay of the opening Test, became the 45th Test captain of the side. The second Test of the four-match series starts here on Wednesday. "I have told the boys that I have no intentions of changing any plans. I think we have come a long way and we are playing some good cricket so we are going to continue with that aggressive and positive brand of cricket," Smith said.
"When we cross the line, we are not friends with the opposition. It's all about going out there and trying to win a cricket game and being as aggressive and positive as we can be. That's something we have done really well recently and I have no intentions of changing the way we are going about our business," he said.
The baby-faced youngster said he has got the full backing of Clarke, whose cricketing future has been thrown into jeopardy due to nagging hamstring and back injuries. "I spoke with Michael this morning. He sent me a text and told me 'give me a buzz when you are free'. I gave him a call and he is very proud of me. He is just really excited for me to lead Australia this week," he said.
"As a captain, first and foremost, I will try and lead from the front with my performance on the field. With regards to tactics, I think we have been pretty good this year. Pup (Clarke) has been amazing with what he has done, and I don't really feel the need for any big change there," Smith added. Smith also spoke of the support he has received from vice-captain Brad Haddin, the veteran wicketkeeper-batsman, who was tipped to lead the team following Clarke's injury.
"I am extremely close to Brad and when I told him yesterday that (national selection Panel Chairman) Rod (Marsh) had called me, he was over the moon for me and proud as punch. I am certainly looking to Brad out there as Michael always does. He is a terrific teammate and has got a great cricket brain too. He is someone on whom I can lean on out in the middle for sure," he said.
Speaking about what he would bring to the table as captain, Smith said even while being just a team member, he always tried to think like a leader. "Even when I am just a player on the field, I have my brain thinking as a captain all the time. I try to think what the situation needs and sometimes I throw some thoughts over to Michael and Brad and see where we go from there," he said.
Asked about his evolution as a player, Smith said, "Patience is big word for me, I don't try to hit every single ball like the way I did when I first stated." "I have had a bit of leadership experience with New South Wales and the Sydney Sixers. In Sixers I had some older heads there with Brett Lee and Stuart MacGill and to lead those guys was a big thrill for me," he recalled.
Smith found the full backing from coach Darren Lehmann. "He has always had the qualities of leadership. He has led New South Wales and Sydney Sixers and he has led them well. And it is just now about being captain in state cricket, it is also about how he goes about with this group. How he gels with his team-mates and what he brings to the table," he said.
"Obviously with a young leader like him, we are looking at the future and thinking long term. But we also need to play well in the short-term and need to play well here in Brisbane and in this current series," he added.
When asked how much advice the young captain will receive from him, Lehmann replied, "The same as Michael. We discuss strategy beforehand but after going on the field, he takes over. It will be pretty much the same. He is the captain of Australia and we are here to provide him and his team what they need to win out there. It will all be his calls. He will get some right and some wrong, which happens with everybody."
Team performance chief Pat Howard meanwhile stated clearly that this was only a Test appointment at the moment, despite the 2015 ODI World Cup less than two months away and Clarke's availability a major doubt. "In the earlier situation, Clarke had a short term injury. So it was going to be Brad in case he was not available for the first Test. This is going to be a longer term injury now and the Board have shown their hand. This is a long-term solution," Howard said.
"Regarding the World Cup, we have specifically quarantined that. We will get better prognosis over Clarke's injury over the next 48 hours. Meanwhile, George Bailey has done a fantastic job as ODI captain in his absence. We are number one ODI team in the world and we have won the last two ODI series we played. And this decision and announcement was only about the Test captaincy," he signed off.