Steven Smith has conceded that Australia came up short with the bat against West Indies on Monday, but he said a “sloppy” display in the field was another key reason for Australia’s loss.
Sent in by Jason Holder in St Kitts, Australia made a strong start and were 157 for 1 after 30 overs, but a series of wickets led to a significant slowing of the run rate, and they managed only 108 in the final 20 overs. West Indies chased down the target of 266 with more than four overs remaining, and joined Australia on two wins on the tri-series points table, with one game in hand.
Usman Khawaja was the stand-out batsman for Australia with 98, having moved up to open in the absence of the injured David Warner, but he spilled two catches within the first eight overs of the chase to reprieve West Indian openers Johnson Charles and Andre Fletcher. Smith said Australia’s fielding and new-ball bowling had let the team down, along with the stalling of the batting innings.
“I think we were probably 15 to 20 short with the bat,” Smith said. “We got ourselves into a pretty good position at about the 30-over mark, I think we were around 1 for 157. We weren’t able to accelerate as well as we would have liked in the 30 to 40 overs, and then from the 40- to 50-over mark.
“In the field I think we started really poorly with the ball. They came out playing their shots, and credit to them. But I thought we were a fair way off our lines and lengths. Our fielding was pretty average in that first 10 overs. When you’re chasing 265 and you’re 1 for 70 after 10 overs, you’re well on your way. We started pretty poorly with the ball.
“I think it was just a pretty sloppy display altogether in the field. I thought we didn’t bowl the right areas. We let them off a bit easy in that respect. We were sloppy with most of the things we did in the field as well.
“We’ve been doing all the work. We’re doing our best, but this isn’t the standard that the Australian cricket team sets, so we’ve got a lot more work to do to try to improve it. We set ourselves high standards in the field, and we want to be the best fielding team in the world. We’ve got a lot of work to do to get to that mark.”
Smith described the Warner Park pitch as “two-paced” and said the extra bounce early in the match made it hard for batsmen to get a start. Khawaja and Smith put on 170 for the second wicket but the loss of Smith for 74 and then Khawaja for 98 slowed Australia’s innings.
“Once you’re in you have to cash in,” he said. “I thought the partnership with Usman was a good one to get us to that platform, but it was probably one of us to go on and get 120, 130, that might have given us that extra 20 runs to get ourselves into the game.”
Australia now move to Barbados for the final leg of the series, and Smith said both Glenn Maxwell and Mitchell Starc would come under consideration. Australia are managing Starc’s workload as he makes his return from a long injury lay-off, while Maxwell was dropped from the previous two matches after failing to reach double-figures in any of his past five ODI innings.
“He sort of lacked a little bit of consistency in the middle order in the last ten or so one-dayers, so we left him out for these couple of games,” Smith said of Maxwell. “But I’m sure he’ll be talked about coming into Barbados. We’ll just have to wait and see.”