Hobart, Jan 18(ANI): Former Australian selector John Benaud has said that 20-year-old New South Wales leg-spinner Steve Smith should replace struggling Marcus North for the tour of New Zealand, starting next month.
Benaud is adamant that North must be sacked after a horror series against West Indies and Pakistan, allowing Australia to give Smith his first baggy green cap and blood him for the Ashes series, which is just 10 months away.
"If the selectors see Steve Smith as a potential Test player against England next year, then they should give him a chance - and a short tour of New Zealand would be a good opportunity," The Daily Telegraph quoted Benaud, as saying.
"He has the ability to bat No. 6. At some stage, the selectors will have to find another young batsman. North is getting on in age and so is our top order, guys like Mike Hussey and Ricky Ponting, so a bit of new blood wouldn't be a bad thing with the Ashes not too far away," he added.
North's place in the Test squad is in doubt after he had a disastrous series against Pakistan, where he scored just 41 runs in three Tests with a top score of 21 and an average of 10.25.
Talking about North, Benaud said: "His form warrants being dropped. The danger with North is that he is out of form and you tend to hang onto these blokes hoping they will bat their way into form ... when you could have blooded a younger guy and given him three or four Tests to find his feet."
Smith was earlier called up to the Australian Test side to cover for spinner Nathan Hauritz, who was in doubt for Boxing Day Test against Pakistan, but Hauritz managed to recover. (ANI)