Smith ready to forge new era for Australia

04th November 2015

Australia's new Test captain prepares for his first full series in charge with ambitions to lead from the front

As a Test match captain, Steve Smith already has more than 500 runs to his name and an average of 92.5.

Three bountiful matches filling in for Michael Clarke against India last summer were perhaps just a tantalising glimpse of things to come for Australia.

With Clarke - and a host of other senior players - bowing out of the game following the winter's Ashes defeat, Smith returns to the Gabba this week not only as the Test team's full-time captain but to usher in a new era.

Last summer Smith watched on as his NSW Blues and Sydney Sixers teammate Josh Hazlewood was presented with his Baggy Green cap by Test great Glenn McGrath. Smith was then presented with his own memento from former skipper Mark Taylor - the captain's blazer, becoming just the 45th man to be bestowed with the honour of leading his country.

Smith handed the reins back to Clarke during the winter tours of the Caribbean and United Kingdom as he continued to plunder runs. Since his breakthrough century against England in the 2013 winter, Smith has scored another 10 centuries - topped by his 215 at Lord's this winter, and averages 72.79.

It's a 27-month hot streak that has taken him to the top of the International Cricket Council's world rankings, made him one of the world's most dangerous and prolific batsmen and locked in his captaincy credentials.

"He captained us last year during the Indian series and led from the front," Australia's vice-captain, David Warner, told

"He's always said he wants to score as many runs as he can and that's where he wants to lead from. He wants to lead by example with the bat.

"His knowledge of the game is exceptional. He reads the game so well and he has learned a lot from Michael Clarke but Steve brings his own dimension to the game which is fantastic.

"He's still going to be aggressive, we know that and (we know) what he's going to bring to the table. I think Australian cricket is going to be in great hands for the future."

Smith made his Test debut as a leg-spinning allrounder at Lord's in 2010 under the captaincy of Ricky Ponting, but it was under Clarke that he played the bulk of his Test cricket; 25 of his 33 Tests have been under his predecessor's leadership.

It seems only natural, then, that the similarities to Clarke's leadership are noted by his colleagues.

"I think he's moulded himself, especially mentally, off the back of Michael Clarke, so I think that Australia can expect the same sort of attacking style and brand from our new Australian captain," off-spinner Nathan Lyon says of Smith.

Hazlewood agrees: "A fair bit of Michael Clarke has rubbed off on him in the last few years.

"He's very attacking and proactive about the way he goes about it. You'll see small changes along the lines of Clarkey."

For Smith himself, the challenge of captaincy is something he can't wait to get stuck into full-time.

"It's a bit of a generational change in Australia cricket," Smith told

"We've obviously lost six very good senior payers in the last couple of months, so there's a lot of shoes to fill there and I'm hopeful the guys who come in can do that straight away.

"We're going to be working extremely hard to make sure we're doing everything we can to have success, not only this summer but into the future as well. But I'm looking forward to all the challenges I face as captain of this country."

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