Steve Smith sinks to ugly 10-year low amid backlash over move to Test cricket opener

The mercurial batter has struggled since moving to the top of the order for Australia.

Steve Smith has sunk to a 10-year low heading into the second Test against New Zealand following his two cheap dismissals at the Basin Reserve. The mercurial batter has been fighting off criticism after opting to make the move up the order to opener to replace David Warner.

He finished the West Indies series on a high, with a 91 not out, but other than one innings Smith has struggled in his new role. In the first Test match Smith scored a modest 31 in the first innings, before being dismissed for a duck in the second.

Steve Smith (pictured) has sunk to a 10-year low having fallen to 800 points in the batting rankings behind Joe Root. (Getty Images)
Steve Smith (pictured) has sunk to a 10-year low having fallen to 800 points in the batting rankings behind Joe Root. (Getty Images)

Smith's five innings as opener read 12, 11 not out, 6, 91 not out, 31 and 0. And unfortunately after a rather lean run of form in the summer, Smith has dropped below 800 points for the first time since 2014. This has seen him relegated one place to third in the International Cricket Council rankings behind England's Joe Root.

New Zealand's Kane Williamson occupies first position, but also endured a rough start to the two-Test series having been dismissed for 0 and nine. This followed three centuries against a weakened South African outfit.

Smith was defiant after the last West Indies Test match after hitting back at criticism of his decision to move to opener after claiming he was averaging above 60 in the position. Unfortunately, Smith will need a solid Test match to once again move his average in the right direction.

Despite a lean run of form, Smith is looking to cement his position as Australia's new opener and will have time to prove it considering his remarkable form across the last 10 years. Unfortunately, the pressure is piling on Marnus Labuschagne after the No.3 has endured a rough run of form.

Marnus Labuschagne struggling for form

Questions were being asked of Labuschagne ahead of the New Zealand series and it didn't get off to the best start with the No.3 dismissed for one off 27 balls and one off 16. Labuschagne has now only made one century in his last 37 Test innings, and only passing 50 on six occasions during that time.

Questions were asked of Labuschagne's position in the team after another lean Test match, but captain Pat Cummins was quick to dismiss the outside pressure on the 29-year-old. "I think he'd be the first to admit he'd like to score some more runs," Cummins said.

"We're very clear that these six guys are the six best batters in Australia. At times it might not have clicked all together at once but the story of our team has been someone's been able to stand up when they need to. So everyone's going well."

Marnus Labuschagne walks off the field.
Marnus Labuschagne (pictured) has endured a tough summer after a lean run of form.

Australia as a batting unit hasn't excelled having only surpassed 300 on six occasions this summer. While someone in the top six has stood up when it mattered, the batting line-up as a whole hasn't fired. But, coach Andrew McDonald has quelled concerns over the performance because "when you're winning games of cricket the concern levels are fractionally lower".

He also defended Labuschagne after he claimed: "There's going to be some ebbs and flows in your career". "It was only two runs so I don't want to get carried away ... but that's what we see when he's at his best," he added. New Zealand has only won one of its last 32 Test Matches against Australia and will be looking to improve this record on Friday.

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