Sports, Cricket

Steve Smith bats for Peter firing back of Mathew Haden’s remark

Published : 09 Mar 2023 09:05 PM

Stand-in Australia captain Steve Smith has gone into bat for teammate Peter Handscomb after the batter's first innings during the third Test against India was described as “un-Australian” by cricket great Matthew Hayden. On a treacherous pitch in Indore that saw the home side skittled for just 109 runs after winning the toss and batting first, Handscomb scored 19 runs off 98 balls before finally being removed by Ravi Ashwin.

The Aussies went on to score a comfortable nine-wicket victory to leave the series at 2-1 heading into the fourth and final Test in Ahmedabad, starting on Thursday. However,

“He was very, very defensive with his mindset,” Hayden had said in commentary for Star. “His strike rate o under 20 means that you are not going anywhere, and the scoreboard is not going anywhere, and that’s a product of some really tough batting conditions... he was sort of like a sitting duck in many ways.

“It’s almost un-Australian. I don’t want anyone out there to think that I’m overly criticising Pete, I’m not. It’s just not quite attacking enough. It’s such a tricky balance.”

Smith took exception to Hayden's comments and argued that Handscomb has been one of Australia's best batters this series, having earned a recall to the Test side after years in the wilderness. Handscomb made scores of 31 and 6 in the first Test, followed by a 72 not out and a duck in the second Test.

“I was pretty disappointed to see some of the comments last Test match around him not playing the Australian way,” Smith said of Handscomb. “He’s batted the same in the first innings throughout the whole series.

“I think he’s been outstanding. The first two Test matches [31 and 72 not out] in the first innings of both and left pretty much stranded. If one of the other top seven were able to get in a partnership with him, things could certainly be different.”

“He batted beautifully in the first two, he’s stuck to his method, he’s trusted his defence, and then scored off balls that were either over-pitched or too short and played them off the back foot. His method has proved it’s worked in difficult conditions. So I was shocked to see some comments about the way he was playing because I think him and Uzzy [Khawaja] have probably been arguably our two best batters in this series.”