Amid speculations surrounding Steve Smith’s potential retirement from Test cricket, his manager, Warren Craig, has put the rumors to rest, asserting that the prolific batter is focused on achieving more milestones in his illustrious red-ball career.
Contrary to earlier hints dropped by Smith during Australia’s Test series against South Africa, where he expressed uncertainty about donning the whites at home again, the 34-year-old is eager to continue his cricketing journey.
Craig addressed the retirement rumors, stating, “I can debunk that (retirement) at this point in time. He is still talking about things he wants to achieve,” providing assurance to fans who have witnessed Smith’s exceptional contributions over the years.
Despite his exceptional record, Smith’s recent performances have faced scrutiny, with numbers slightly below the lofty standards he has set for himself. While maintaining an average of 58.40 in 2022, his 2023 average dropped to 43.16. Additionally, Smith’s contribution with the bat during Australia’s successful ODI World Cup 2023 campaign was modest, scoring 302 runs in 10 matches at an average of 33.55.
Former Australian captain Mark Taylor weighed in on the discussion, acknowledging that players in their mid-thirties often face challenges in maintaining peak performance. However, Taylor expressed optimism about Smith’s potential comeback, emphasizing that players can still deliver outstanding performances beyond their perceived prime.
“It does not mean they are done, but normally you have seen their best by then. The early 30s would be the purple patch for most players,” Taylor remarked, highlighting the typical career trajectory in professional cricket.
Taylor also reflected on Smith’s remarkable return to the game after the ‘Sandpaper Gate’ scandal that led to a 12-month ban. While Smith exhibited resilience in his comeback during the series in England, Taylor noted the challenges faced by the right-handed batter in subsequent home series against New Zealand and Pakistan.
“He had that extra motivation to prove he would come back an even better player – and on pitches that did a bit. He did that, and funnily enough he came back on the Australian summer and did not make a lot of runs,” Taylor concluded, underscoring the unpredictable nature of cricketing performances.