Steve Smith thinks poor fielding cost Australia an even more emphatic victory over India in the four-match test series which concluded with a draw at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Saturday.
Not too many captains, let alone caretaker captains, have to defend themselves after a series in which his team has won two tests and lost none against a top class opponent.
Given, however, the one-sided nature of series between the two countries — neither has won a match on the other’s soil since India triumphed in Perth seven years ago — Smith was asked whether 2-0 was really “good enough”.
“Throughout this season we’ve let ourselves down in the field, perhaps if we had taken a few more chances, it might have been a little bit different,” he said.
“They are not the standards we set as an Australian cricket team. We have a lot of work to do on our fielding with one-day series and the World Cup coming up to get our standards up where we want them to be.”
Coach Darren Lehmann described Australia’s fielding in the third drawn test in Melbourne as “shoddy”, while broadcaster Channel Nine calculated that 17 chances had been spurned during the series.
The team’s preparations for next month’s start of the 50-over World Cup on home soil should be helped by the recall of American fielding specialist Mike Young.
Smith himself was responsible for two costly spills in India’s first innings in Sydney — the first when he was distracted by the wires of the “spider-cam” — with both Virat Kohli and Lokesh Rahul going on to make centuries.
He redeemed himself to some extent with a brilliant diving catch to dismiss Rohit Sharma on Saturday before picking up the Man of the Match and Man of the Series awards for his record-breaking batting.
While there is no doubt he will be named in Australia’s squad for the World Cup on Sunday, he has no expectation of remaining caretaker skipper for the injured Michael Clarke in the shorter form of the game.
“I think George Bailey has done a great job for Australia in the one-day format so I think at this stage George will be the man,” he said.
“I’m happy where everything’s at the moment. I’ve enjoyed the last couple of weeks captaining the test side in Michael’s absence, I’m just looking forward to playing some one-day cricket and hopefully contributing to more Australia wins.”