Suddenly, Smith not half the batsman we are used to seeing

Australian captain Steve Smith has acknowledged he needs to improve his batting in one-day cricket if his team are to climb out of their slump.

For the first time in his reign, Smith has been unable to fulfil his pledge to be a skipper who leads from the front.

The man who has carried Australia's Test fortunes has been unable to do the same in the one-day international arena. Widely acclaimed outside of India as the best batsman in the world, Smith has become just another player in the 50-over format rather than the immoveable rock he is in the five-day game.

His average of 34 across his last 10 ODI matches is a fraction of his 82 in the baggy green since the start of the series in India. In a numbers sense, Smith the one-day batsman is not half Smith the Test batsman.

Smith sets such high standards for himself at Test level, he admonishes himself when he plays a false shot. Even accounting for the different format, the sloppy manner of his dismissals this series would have been unthinkable during the Ashes: caught behind following a leg-break from Adil Rashid, followed by a leg before wicket pushing across the line to, of all bowlers, the part-time off-spin of Joe Root.

"I definitely think I've got a lot of room for improvement. I don't think I've been playing one-day cricket as well as I could the last couple of series," Smith said.

"I have pretty high expectations for myself and I haven't been living up to them recently. I've got to start nailing it down, I've got a few starts and [need to] go on with them and set the team up a little bit more."

Smith is part of a top four which, outside of Aaron Finch, has not delivered for a while now. Australia's plan A is to have Mitchell Marsh and Marcus Stoinis ready to unleash in the closing overs. Instead, they are being exposed too early. In Marsh's case, he has cleaned up someone else's mess only to then leave spillage of his own.

"We always talk about the top four doing the bulk of the work out in the middle and leaving the power to the guys in the back end," Smith said.

"Ideally, having someone in the top four go through as well. We've got to fix that up. The other three guys, Finchy has been exceptional scoring two hundreds in the first two games, but the rest of us have to start pulling our slack as well."

Smith had earlier criticised the middle order for again failing to capitalise on a strong position. That part of the line-up has already paid the price for Australia's lean trot with the axings of Glenn Maxwell and Matthew Wade.

Despite averaging 93 in his past five games and scoring back-to-back hundreds, Finch has also worn blame for getting out at inopportune moments.

"[We're] still trying to find the right balance," Smith said.

"In Sydney, it's now a do-or-die clash for us. We have to come out and start playing better one-day cricket."

This story Suddenly, Smith not half the batsman we are used to seeing first appeared on The Age.