Former Australia skipper George Bailey had a very minimal role to play during their victorious ICC World Cup 2015 campaign at home. But his idea to promote Steve Smith in the top-order did wonder for the host during that tournament and the rest is history.
Previously, Smith was a regular leg-break bowler while he batted down the order at 6 or 7. But observing Steve Smith's capability to build an innings and bat for long, George Bailey had put forward this idea of sending Smith in the top-order. Eventually, Smith was Australia’s leading run-scorer with 402 runs in eight games at an average of 67 with one century and four half-centuries.
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More importantly, Steve Smith played a crucial knock of 56 off 71 deliveries guiding his side to the coveted trophy against arch-rivals New Zealand at the jam-packed Melbourne Cricket Ground. Bailey, who played only one game in that World Cup further revealed that it was his idea to send all-rounder Mitchell Marsh down for his hitting abilities.
“My claim to fame, and no doubt he would have ended up there anyway, (but) we’d been using Steve Smith at six or seven in the one-day team and in Zimbabwe (the previous August-September) we threw Mitch Marsh up to three in a game,” Bailey was quoted as saying in The Unplayable Podcast.
“I made a suggestion that it should be Steve Smith (at three) because at that time Mitch could, and still can, bludgeon the ball, but I couldn’t see him batting for the full innings, where I could see ‘Smudger’ (Smith) batting for 50 overs, making those key hundreds that you could bat around,” he added.
Since then, Steve Smith has been a regular at No. 3 for Australia across formats piling up tons of runs for the side. George Bailey, in conclusion, said that it played a significant role and Smith is currently one of the most consistent batters in the world.
“That recommendation was taken up and that played a huge part – Smudger was three right throughout the World Cup and hasn’t moved since,” Bailey concluded.