- Matthew Hayden has nominated his choice to replace David Warner
- Fellow Aussie ex-cricketers Mark Taylor & Michael Clarke disagreed
- Clarke’s comments raised plenty of eyebrows with cricket fans
Cricket greats Matthew Hayden and Mark Taylor are on different pages when it comes to David Warner’s successor at Test level – but Michael Clarke has proved he is reading a different book altogether with an incredible claim about how Steve Smith will go opening the batting for Australia.
Hayden, 52, has endorsed fellow Queenslander Matt Renshaw as the man to face the new ball, while ex-Test captain Taylor, 59, believes Steve Smith is the standout choice to partner Usman Khawaja in the upcoming series against Pakistan.
Fellow former Test skipper Michael Clarke agreed with Taylor, and raised plenty of eyebrows after stating ‘don’t be surprised if he [Smith] breaks Brian Lara’s 400 record because he’s that good and now he’s got the whole day [to bat].’
Clarke also claimed Smith ‘will end up the world’s best opening batsman within 12 months’ if he’s picked to move to the top of the order.
Aussie cricket legend Matthew Hayden has endorsed fellow Queenslander Matt Renshaw as the man to replace David Warner
However, his fellow ex-opening batsman Mark Taylor believes Steve Smith is the best option
Former Test skipper Michael Clarke agreed with Taylor, and raised plenty of eyebrows by stating Smith is likely to break Brian Lara’s Test record innings of 400 if he opens
‘I feel like a left-handed opener in Renshaw is the person [to pick] with age  on his side,’ Hayden told Fairfax Media.
‘I just feel like he has shown what he can potentially do, and he has that longevity.
‘It’s a gut feel more than anything. [Cameron] Bancroft and [Marcus] Harris are a little older, and you could argue a little wiser….but Renshaw gives you that youthful edge, and soon you are going to have two new openers [once Usman Khawaja retires].’
Smith’s usually excellent form slipped during the three-Test series against Pakistan – but Clarke predicts the 34-year-old will rise to new heights if he replaces Warner
If Bancroft, 31, is overlooked, his Test career is almost certainly over.
The West Australian has plundered runs in the Sheffield Shield the past two seasons, and is comfortably the leading run-scorer in the competition.
Warner has previously pushed for Harris as a straight swap – but is understood selectors are leaning towards all-rounder Cameron Green or Steve Smith as a left-field option.
Taylor has no doubt Smith would rise to the occasion and it follows ‘Smudge’ declaring he was ‘pretty keen’ for the role, despite his success in the middle-order at Test level.
Cameron Bancroft has plundered runs for Western Australia in the Sheffield Shield for the past two seasons – but will it be enough to earn a Test recall?
‘I don’t mind that at all because to me it says Steve Smith wants to do what’s best for the team, which I think is terrific,’ he told Wide World of Sports.
‘I thought maybe [Marnus] Labuschagne moves up and Smith bats at three and Green comes in at four. But if Smith wants to move up and Labuschagne doesn’t, I don’t have a problem with that.
‘If that’s what’s best for Australian cricket, I think it’s a good move.’
Taylor is also open to Green slotting in to bat at no.4, and pointed out the all-rounder’s medium pace when clutching the red ball and his safe hands in the field.