Warner retired from Test cricket following the New Year’s Test victory over Pakistan at his home Sydney Cricket Ground.
The 37-year-old had announced his long-term plan to walk away from the format with the completion of that series ahead of last year’s tour to England, on which Australia won the World Test Championship and retained the Ashes.
That led to a drawn out debate over a succession plan, with Marcus Harris, Cameron Bancroft and Matt Renshaw long assumed to be the landing candidates to fill the spot.
However, Smith emerged as a surprise option in recent weeks after confirming he was open to the move in an interview during the Pakistan series.
The 34-year-old has never opened the batting in his 105-Test career and not batted higher than No4 since 2017, but has been preferred to a specialist opener in a move that will also allow Australia to recall all-rounder Cameron Green to their side.
“Steve Smith will be opening the batting and Cameron Green will be coming into the No 4 position which is fantastic,” chief selector George Bailey confirmed overnight. “We have selected a team we believe contains the best six batters in the country.
“I believe [Smith’s] keen for this to be a significant chapter of his career. We don’t look too far ahead … [but] for all intents and purposes this is where Steve wants to stay.
“It’s selfless that someone who has had so much success in one position or a couple of positions in the middle order is open and willing and hungry to have a crack at something new and something different.”