Surprise as Smith chosen for India tour

AS SURPRISED as Steve Smith was to learn of his selection for the tour of India, his shock was mild compared to that of many others around the country.

The same could also be said of Moises Henriques, now on the verge of collecting a baggy green cap.

The pair are among Australia's most highly rated young talents but also have a sizeable share of critics, judging by some of the comments on social media on Thursday.

Many of those doubters, however, are likely to be unaware of their marked development at domestic level this season.

Smith's figures this summer of 296 runs at 37 with no centuries are solid but unremarkable, although, as Shane Warne alluded to in his blueprint, selections should not be based solely on raw numbers but rather when performances are delivered.

Smith's high-class 72 last week in conditions not dissimilar to those he will face in India was timely and indicative of the transformation in his game since he was dumped from the Test side two years ago after the Ashes defeat.

While still a dangerous strokeplayer, Smith, who has been picked primarily as a reserve batsman, is now also organised in defence and capable of occupying the crease for long periods.

Among those impressed by his patience and perseverance last week was Western Australian coach Justin Langer, who was Australia's batting mentor during Smith's last stint in the Test side.

''I feel I've improved a lot the last couple of years, particularly the last six months,'' Smith said.

''I've changed a couple of little things with my batting. I've got rid of one last tap that I used to have which has made me more balanced and steady at the crease.

''I'm really happy with the way I've hit the ball all year, it's a bit disappointing I haven't scored a real big hundred, but I'm feeling really good at the crease and occupying time and just improving every day.''

The 23-year-old believes he will be suited to Indian conditions - a point he proved last week at Blacktown when he outscored Michael Hussey.

''I feel as if I'm playing spin very well at the moment and I feel as though I'm pretty good against the reverse-swinging ball.

''I feel as if my game's suited to those conditions and if I get a crack I can fill that position well.''

Smith's leg-spin remains a work in progress, as his four wicketless overs for 30 attest, but he has only recently returned to the bowling crease and is confident it will improve.

The likelihood of Smith playing alongside Henriques is slim given both are essentially vying for the hole created by Hussey's retirement.

Selection chairman John Inverarity said Henriques, a seam-bowling all-rounder, would play as a third pace option should selectors decide to pick two frontline spinners.

Although prone to inconsistency in the past, Henriques has turned the corner this season, leading New South Wales' run charts with 385 at 77 to go with 14 wickets at 18 with the ball.

''I think I've become a lot calmer and more relaxed in my approach to cricket,'' said Henriques, who turns 26 on Friday.

''I've become a lot more balanced off the field, I don't put as much pressure on myself to do well and when I don't do well it doesn't stay with me for the next fixture.

''I think in the past I've been scarred by poor performances or injuries and now I just try and take it as a game of cricket and although we do it as a profession, you've got to do it because you love it as well.''

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