He says it’s too early to know for sure, but that the rest has “probably” done him a “world of good” ahead of a packed seven months of cricket. What he does know is the whole thing could have been handled better.
Smith and Cricket Australia were hammered from critics left, right and centre when the decision for the skipper to go home early was revealed midway through the one-day series in Sri Lanka, and he believes the timing of the announcement did not help.
On top of the decision being revealed just moments after a loss and just a day before his departure, it had always been CA’s plan to send him home two games into the five-match one-day series.
“Everyone is entitled to their opinion,” Smith said of the heat he copped for leaving Sri Lanka early. “We knew a fair way out that I was going to be leaving after the second one-day game and I guess the fact that we only sort of brought it out the day before probably shocked a few people.
“For me it was just about getting the messaging across and I think we could have got the messaging across a little bit better.”
It’s a lesson he says both he and CA have taken to heart, stressing the need to communicate these decisions with the public more effectively, particularly when it comes to rests for himself and vice-captain David Warner.
It’s an important lesson too, because CA has to manage its players workloads meticulously nowadays with the cricket calendar as packed as it has ever been. The tour of Sri Lanka only ended on the 9th of September and 11 days later the Australians are boarding flights to South Africa for six one-dayers — five against the hosts, one against Ireland — with Joe Mennie, Dan Worrall and Chris Tremain the only members of the 14-man squad who weren’t involved in the tour of Sri Lanka.
Twenty-three days after that tour ends Australia begins a packed-home summer, with three Tests against the Proteas in November before the three-match one-day Chappell-Hadlee series at home against New Zealand in December.
That’s followed by three Tests and five one-dayers against Pakistan across December-January and then another three-match Chappell-Hadlee series from late January to early February, this time in New Zealand. They then fly back for three Twenty20 against Sri Lanka before jetting off to India for a four-Test series pencilled in for February-March.
It’s a packed schedule and it’s why both Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood have been rested for the tour of South Africa.
“Particularly (for) the fast bowlers, it’s very difficult for them to sustain it for long periods of time and go full tilt, which we want those guys doing.
“But having said that, I guess for this series it gives a couple of guys an opportunity. We get a chance to look at Tremain, Mennie and Worrall who are in the squad. So hopefully they’ll take that opportunity with both hands.”
Moving back to Smith’s short time away from the game, the 27-year-old says he watched every ball of the tour when he got home.
What he saw from Warner and the rest of Australia’s limited overs players impressed him with the tourists winning the next three ODIs to seal a 4-1 win and the two Twenty20s. It was night-and-day from Australia’s performances in the Test arena, where Smith’s men were whitewashed 3-0.
“I think he (Warner) did a great job with the guys,” Smith said. “I thought his energy was magnificent throughout those games and I guess just looking forward that’s the sort of energy we want from him and all of the other senior players.
“I thought in the Test series in Sri Lanka we lacked a fair bit of energy in the field and that probably cost us at times.
“When the one-day boys came in after the Test matches, it seemed like a different group. They certainly brought a lot more energy into the group and they adapted to the conditions a lot better.
“I know it’s a completely different format an there’s not guys around the bat and things like that so there’s not as much pressure as such with the fields and the way you play the game. But I thought the guys adapted well and had good plans batting.” (Courtesy Fox Sports)