Steve Smith has scored 455 runs in the two previous cricket World Cups and hit the winning runs for Australia in the final against New Zealand, at the MCG, in 2015.
- Smith and Warner will make their official returns to international cricket at the World Cup
- Former Australian selector Mark Waugh expects the duo to excel during the tournament
- Waugh says Australia is a “good chance” of winning the 2019 World Cup
The 29-year-old is known to be one of Australia’s finest batsmen, so such feats come as little surprise.
But it’s Smith’s World Cup record — when compared to the rest of those playing in this year’s tournament — that highlights just how important his return is to the Australian line-up.
Prior to the start of the 2019 tournament, Smith’s average of almost 57 in World Cup appearances has him placed as the second-best batsman playing in this year’s showpiece.
Smith’s record is even more impressive when you consider he made his World Cup debut batting at number seven, when he was picked as a bowling all-rounder for the 2011 showpiece in the subcontinent.
World Cup — top five batting averages (active players)
|M Guptill (NZ)||17 (17 inn)||809||57.78|
|S Smith (Aus)||14 (10 inn)||455||56.87|
|Mahmudullah (Ban)||10 (9 inn)||397||56.71|
|F du Plessis (SAf)||14 (13 inn)||539||53.90|
|S Dhawan (Ind)||8 (8 inn)||412||51.50|
*Data provided by Opta Sports at the start of the 2019 World Cup. Minimum of 8 innings.
Teammate David Warner sits in sixth position — in his eight World Cup innings, he’s scored 345 runs at an average of 49.28.
Surprisingly, New Zealand’s Martin Guptill tops the list while India’s Virat Kohli (WC avg 41.92) and West Indian Chris Gayle (WC avg 37.76) don’t even make the top 10.
Australia’s Glenn Maxwell has only batted in six World Cup matches, albeit at an impressive average of 64.8.
Smith and Warner are in ominous form
With Smith and Warner going into this year’s tournament ranked second and sixth, a lot is expected as they make their official return to international cricket.
Former Australian selector and batsman Mark Waugh has told the ABC that both players are well placed to deliver more stand-out batting performances.
“Even though they have been off the scene for 12 months, I think they are showing great signs that they are now back to their best,” Waugh said.
Smith scored a century against England in a World Cup warm-up match while Warner starred in the recent Indian Premier League. The pugnacious left-hander scored a tournament high 692 runs in 12 innings at an average of 69.20.
“They are going to score a lot of runs and I think the Australians are well equipped to get to the semi-finals, and once you get to the semi-finals you are a good chance of winning it,” Waugh said.
“Aaron Finch has got a good record but he is a little more inconsistent than those two.
“Usman Khawaja is up there when he’s at his best, but Smith and Warner are just a class above.”
Will a combative crowd get to the duo?
Smith and Warner, who were dumped from the side after the events of South Africa last year in March, will hope to pick up where they left off in one-day international cricket.
In the three years before their ban, the pair scored no less than 5,139 runs between them, which equated to more than 30 per cent of the Australian team’s total runs.
The overwhelming desire for the pair to score runs for their coach and country will be a factor. So too will a hostile crowd.
The former captain and vice-captain have been booed by spectators and called cheatsduring the warm-up phase of the competition.
“The more success Australia has, the quieter the crowd will be,” Waugh said.
“There will definitely be noise there and some chanting but when you are batting out in the middle it doesn’t really affect you as much as say when you are fielding.
“When you are batting you really are in your bubble and it wipes out most of the noise, so I don’t think it will be that much of a factor.”
Australia’s World Cup defence campaign officially gets underway against Afghanistan, in Bristol, on Saturday night.