Steven Smith has lots to think about before their next Test tour in Asia © AFP
Steven Smith has lots to think about before his side’s next Test tour commences in Asia © AFP

“I hate losing and cricket being my first love, once I enter the ground it’s a different zone altogether and that hunger for winning is always there”, said Sachin Tendulkar, who had rendered 24 years to the game. For normal readers, it is inspiring to read such statements but for cricketers, this is how most would want their approaches to the game to be. They take every game ruminatively and winning is all they want. Sachin loved, or probably still loves, cricket and treats it more than a game. The casual spectator may not want to hear it, but the sole objective of taking the field for every cricketer is to win. There can be no apprehension about that. Even the most disinterested of couch potatoes is bound to have understood how much the series whitewash would have disturbed Australia. ALSO READ: Smith reveals details of chat with Herath post Australia’s whitewash

AUSTRALIAN CRICKET TEAM:

Teams play to win. Australia play to remain on the top. They believe they will win every match, and are forever eager to dominate the game. They are not a team who will fool around or get complacent after a few wins. Winning is their habit and they do not want to compromise on that. It is in their nature. That is all they know. Winning a World Cup in India for the first time when the hosts were the defending champions was not easy. Winning three World Cups on trot, finding a way back into the match almost every time, never lose or think of losing till the match is done and dusted unless you are Australia.

Australia crave for perfection. They want to conquer every format, pulverise other teams and stamp their authority on the ground. It has forever been their USP. It has also been the reason why they are loved (and disliked, by some sections) for this approach of players from Down Under. All said and done, their record of late in Asia is abysmal to say the least. They have lost 9 Tests in the subcontinent on the trot. and their last victory came in 2011.

It must have hurt. They will be hungry to hit back. For once let us not analyse what went wrong but read into the mindset of an Australian skipper after what he has gone through after the disastrous series against Sri Lanka. ALSO READ: Australia’s overseas Test credentials take further pounding

Steven Smith: A read into the charismatic Australian’s mind

“I’ve been through the full gamut of emotions on this tour of Sri Lanka, especially in the last couple of days since we lost the third Test in Colombo. That’s what happens after you lose a series in the manner that we did. I always reflect at the end of the series and work out what I did well and what I didn’t do well. The difference between batting in the nets and batting in a Test match, with fielders around the bat, the ball skidding around, the pressure of everyone watching you – it’s immense.”

It is evident how much Smith wants to win. Like a typical Australian, he must have done his homework on what went wrong in the series. One needs to understand that Australia take things differently than their competitors. They play ruthless cricket and take pride in dominating series. This time they are on the opposite side with a severe scar added to their overseas record after losing 0-3 to a relatively inexperienced side. The three whitewashes in the Indian subcontinent have put them on the mat. They are eager to turn tides, but would not they have been eager before the start of this series too?

Unfortunately, in the urge to maintain their dominance, Australians lead to their own downfall. This depicts two things: first, Australia is not used to being thrashed and look clueless before regrouping after such a performance; secondly, how well can they rise from the ashes when brought down by the opposition is still not be answered by them. ALSO READ: Australia’s harrowing outcome highlights failure to ram home advantages

Smith further added: “We’ve had another poor series on the subcontinent and that needs to stop happening. I’d say we have to go back to the drawing board, but that’s what we’ve said after all our series in Asia recently. Winning series away from home is my number one goal as Australia’s Test captain. Obviously we still have to win matches at home but I’d love to have a lot more success overseas.”

Smith has shone due to his sheer hard work. He does not look as elegant as a Sachin or a Sangakkara. He moved up the ranks to become their leader across formats in 2015, and is aware of Australia’s debatable performance on rank turners. He does not want to get bogged down and urges to start from the bottom. If he wants a solid performance from his troops at home, he does not want to compromise on the quality of cricket in the subcontinent.

Can they do away with the Australian aggression for now?

“I know there’s a big tour of India not too far away and we need to take the lessons we’ve learned here and apply them over there.” His next assignment will be against Sri Lanka as well, in shorter formats. Being a part of a champion side, he has his eyes set on the future to rectify his side’s slump in Tests in Asia. Teams fall only to get up and Smith’s side wants that desperately. Their coveted No. 1 Test rank has been snatched by them. But can they shed their ‘aggressive brand of cricket’ image for a while and take a back seat and see how things turn out?

They do not have class players in their arsenal to play spin. They had a chance to draw the first and third Tests versus Sri Lanka but they went for a win. Does not going for a win mean acting foolish? They would have remained at the numero uno position had they not gone for a win in the final Test. ALSO READ: SL vs AUS, 3rd Test, Day 5: Highlights

In the end, how well Smiths plan out the resurgence and takes pride in trying new tactics, even if it means drawing a few games and getting their confidence back, will be looked upon by everyone.

(Aditya Sahay is a journalist with CricketCountry who is completely into sports and loves writing about cricket in general. He can be followed on Twitter at adisahay7)