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Clarke cautious on Smith

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Australian captain Michael Clarke says Steve Smith is a rising star but he’s not a Test No.3 just yet.

“It’s a fantasy right now,” Clarke said as his side prepares for the second Test against Pakistan, starting today.

Smith hit 101, 12 and 77 at No.3 in the one-day series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates earlier this month and looked composed in scoring 22 and 55 in last week’s first Test in Dubai.

The No.5 batsman has spoken of his willingness to accept the challenge at No.3 and the issue has been speculated upon at Test level following Alex Doolan’s double failure in Dubai.

However, Clarke says if selectors go with an unchanged side, he’s likely to leave the batting order as it was for Thursday’s second Test in Abu Dhabi.

And that means 25-year-old Smith, who has scored four hundreds in 21 Tests including three in nine matches in the past 12 months, is going to have to wait until the time is right.

“In the future I think Smithy can definitely go higher up the order,” Clarke said.

“He’s just just starting his Test career though. He’s playing really well but we’ve also got to give him plenty of time.

“In this game you’re going to ride the roller-coaster, the highs and lows.

“At the moment he’s playing really well so he should be enjoying that.

“He’s a hard worker which I really like.

“I’ve always had a lot of faith in Smithy.

“But we’ve got to be patient with him. He’s learning every day.

“His game’s certainly improving.

“Right now I think he’s batting really well at No.5 and that’s a good thing for the team.

“If there’s changes to the eleven, then I’ll have to assess that.

“But I can’t see that happening, no, in this Test match.”

Smith said on Tuesday he was “absolutely” ready for batting at No.3 if required.

“I’m just enjoying my cricket at the moment and hopefully spending a lot of time out in the middle again in the next Test, whether it’s three, four, five or six,” he said.

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