It is hard to contemplate the 2019 World Cup will be Steve Smith's third. In 2011, he was budding cricketer that was part-time leg-spinner and batted in the lower order. Four years later, Smith had transformed himself into one of the finest batsmen in world cricket. Australian selectors have put enormous faith in Smith by not only selecting him but also omitting his readymade back-up in Peter Handscomb from the 15-man squad.
After 12 months away from international cricket, Smith has found it difficult to regain his majestic touch and his elbow is still restricting his movements. Two weeks ago, Smith was dropped from Rajasthan Royals' playing XI but came back strong to score an unbeaten half-century to lead his franchise to victory against the Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League (IPL).
After the match, Smith stated his elbow is ‘getting better by the day'. Smith will head home in the first week of May to attend the World Cup camp where he is expected to play a few practice matches to rediscover his golden touch.
Smith is expected to bat at No.4 at the World Cup. He will have a defined role of being the anchorman during the middle overs and be the primary player to negotiate the spinners. Smith's record in the ODI game is exceptional, with 3431 runs at 41.84, but it is his strike-rate (85.8) and his inability to hit big sixes is still a concern.
Smith has only batted at No.4 for 17 innings and his average drops to 35.60 with just one hundred. But his sheer presence in the Australian XI and his ability to manoeuvre the ball into the gaps through the middle overs will be vital to Australia's chances.