The Perils of Promoting Smith to the Top Position

Not since the mad scramble to find a wicketkeeper on the eve of the 2017/18 Ashes has Australia faced a selection conundrum like it faces now to replace David Warner. For all the criticism of the veteran’s mediocre returns in recent years, finding an opener who can score quickly, make stacks of runs, and annoy a lot of people promises to be an impossible task. Compromises will need to be made: whether it’s to pick a specialist opener with flaws like Cameron Bancroft, Matt Renshaw, or Marcus Harris, squeeze Cameron Green back into the Test team in the one spot available and make it work; or – the most recent option to be floated – shift Steve Smith to the top of the order and trust him to get the job done.

Here is every option to replace Warner at the top of the order for the West Indies series… from best to worst. Pros and cons of Cameron Bancroft, Cameron Green, Matt Renshaw, and Marcus Harris are discussed. Pros for Cameron Bancroft include being an excellent first-class form and being the top scorer for Australia during the 2018 tour of South Africa. Cons include his slow scoring rate and the political implications of his relationship with the Aussie fast bowlers. Pros for Cameron Green include his remarkable Sheffield Shield average and his batting and bowling skills. Cons include his lack of experience facing the new ball in first-class cricket. Pros for Matt Renshaw include his test century as an opener and well-compiled century in the tour match against Pakistan. Cons include his average Shield numbers. Pros for Marcus Harris include his ability to score quickly and his prolific run-churning at Shield level. A con is his poor season average.