Smith's priority is team success

Australian batsman Steve Smith steers a ball away from the West Indies bowling on the third day of the second cricket Test in Melbourne on Dec 28, 2015.
Australian batsman Steve Smith steers a ball away from the West Indies bowling on the third day of the second cricket Test in Melbourne on Dec 28, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

SYDNEY • After picking up nearly every individual honour on offer in a spectacular 2015, Australia's cricket captain Steve Smith has a more collective goal in his sights this year - restoring his country to the top of the Test rankings.

He finished his annus mirabilis as the world's top-ranked Test batsman and won the International Cricket Council's Cricketer and Test Cricketer of the Year awards, as well as the Allan Border Medal as Australia's best player.

He scored a remarkable 2,369 runs across all three formats, rattling up 1,474 in Tests alone at an average of 73.70 with six centuries.

He was Australia's highest run scorer as they secured a fifth World Cup triumph and he led the Test side to series victories over India, New Zealand and the West Indies.

Even in the Ashes defeat by England, the one major blot on Australia's copy book for the year, he scored his maiden double century to claim the Man of the Match award at Lord's.

Even before he was captain, though, Smith, 26, was always clear that team success came first. With Australia already 2-0 up in the three-match series, this week's third Test against the West Indies might be a dead rubber but victory would send them above India into second place in the Test rankings behind South Africa.

"It's a huge motivation, that's what we want to be, No. 1 in all formats and we're working extremely hard to get there," he told reporters on the eve of the match yesterday. "It would be nice to win this week and wrap this series up 3-0. It's been a good summer for us so far, so we'd like to finish on a high."

Defeat for South Africa in their ongoing series against England would then send Australia back to the summit but even if the English fail to build on their winning start, February's two-Test tour of New Zealand offers Smith's side another chance.

REUTERS

AUSTRALIA V WEST INDIES
3rd Test, day 1: Singtel TV Ch123 & StarHub Ch236, 7.30am

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 03, 2016, with the headline 'Smith's priority is team success'. Print Edition | Subscribe