Steve Smith is firming as the man to replace David Warner at the top of the Australian batting order.
Selectors will name the squad for the two-Test series against West Indies on Wednesday, with a replacement for retired opener Warner the big talking point.
While they are unlikely to confirm the revised batting order, Smith is expected to be the new opener and star allrounder Cam Green will return to the starting XI.
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It means specialist openers Cameron Bancroft, Matt Renshaw and Marcus Harris are set to be snubbed.
The decision to elevate Smith is believed to have gathered steam after the man himself put his hand up for the role.
Smith is expected to move up the order. Credit: AAP
“I’m actually happy to go up the top,” the 34-year-old told ABC radio last week.
“I am pretty keen if that is what they want to do.
“I’m sure the selectors and ‘Ron’ (coach Andrew McDonad) and Patty (captain Pat Cummins) will have a chat after this game, but I am certainly interested. For sure.”
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No.3 batter Marnus Labuschagne threw his support behind his great mate on Tuesday.
“If Steve does get the nod from (captain) Pat (Cummins) and from the selectors and from the coaches then I’ve got no doubt he’ll do a good job,” Labuschagne said.
“He’s excited for a new challenge … if that motivates him and that gets the cricket world Steven Smith for another two or three years then I think that’s a massive win,” he said.
“If that’s the way they go I’m sure he’s going to do a job and if they don’t, well he averages 63 at number four so that’s pretty good as well.
“But I think he’s ready to get out there from the start now and if they go that way it’ll be great to support him.”
Former Aussie great Michael Clarke expects Smith to quickly establish himself as the best opener in the world.
“I tell you now about Steve Smith; if he wants to open the batting and they give him the chance, he will be the No.1 Test opener within 12 months,” Clarke said on ESPN’s Around the Wicket.
“If you can bat at No.3, you can bat anywhere in the order. Technically, he is good enough; he lets the ball go well, he’s got a great eye, he’s got beautiful hands.
“He’s that good a player — and it might be that challenge that he is looking for.”
Clarke, who played with Smith between 2010-2015 and handed the captaincy over to him, went a step further, saying his former teammate could even make the highest Test score for a single innings in the history of the game.
“If he opens the batting, he will be the best opener within 12 months and don’t be surprised if he breaks Brian Lara’s 400 (runs) record because he is that good,” Clarke added.
Australia’s first Test against West Indies starts in Adelaide on January 17, live and free on Channel 7.