Steve Smith reveals Australia's pet peeve, and story of how he got picked

Australia's Steve Smith. File photo: AP | PTI

The Australia cricket team’s star batsman Steve Smith has revealed which of his national team's unfulfilled desires he hopes to fulfil when he plays in India and also disclosed the story of his early days, when he was being considered more for his bowling abilities than batting. 

Winning a Test series in India is something he hopes to achieve for Australia in his career — the Aussies have won only four Test series on Indian soil and their last victory came in 2005, five years before Smith made his debut. "I'd love to win a Test series in India," he said in an interaction with his Indian Premier League (IPL) team Rajasthan Royals' spin-bowling consultant Ish Sodhi, on the franchise's Facebook page.

 

"As an Australian cricketer, the Ashes and the World Cup are big but India is the number 1 side in the world. It's a very difficult place to play Test cricket, so I would love to win a series there," he said.

 

Smith had captained Australia to a massive 333-run win in the first Test against India in Pune during the 2017 series. However, India fought back to win two of the next three Tests and won the series. Indian spinners Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin were particularly lethal in that series. The pair took 25 and 21 wickets, respectively.

Smith explained what made Jadeja so difficult to play against in the subcontinent. He said the best spinners were always consistent with their length and knew how to deceive batsmen from their variations. "If you can hit the good length consistently, especially if it is a wicket that is offering spin, then you are in," he said. "Someone like Jadeja in the subcontinent — why he is so good is because he just hits that good length. One ball skids out, one spins but it just looks the same out of the hand."

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Smith on his Test debut for Australia as a spinner

 

Now ranked world number 1 as a Test batsman, Steve Smith said he was more of a batsman than bowler, but he made his foray into international cricket as a leg-spinner. During his chat with Sodhi, Smith said that he was just one of many players Australia was trying in those days to fill the spot left vacant by the legendary Shane Warne's retirement. "I was probably always more of a batsman than bowler... (but) I got picked in certain teams as more of a bowler which was different. Obviously, I played my first two Test matches as a specialist spinner, which was strange in a way."

 

Smith came on at number eight on his Test debut against Pakistan in 2010 at Lord's, replacing current Australian Test captain Tim Paine at the crease. He lasted just seven deliveries and scored just one run before being dismissed by Danish Kaneria. He didn't bowl in the first Pakistan innings but took three wickets in the second.

 

"They were looking for a spinner after the Shane Warne era and tried plenty of options. Now we have got Nathan Lyon who is doing a terrific job but I was one of the 12 or 13 spinners that they tried. I got dropped after that and I felt I could find a way back into the team through my batting. So at that point I let my bowling slip away a bit," said Smith.

 

The 30-year-old said that he started spending more time in the nets on his batting after getting dropped instead of spending an equal time on both. "Before that I was mixing and matching between batting and bowling and working on both in a session in the nets. Then it got to a point where, if a session is of three hours in the nets, I'd be doing probably two-and-a-half hours of batting," said Smith.

 

"Obviously I had to find a method that worked for me as well, which takes time. I was still at a stage playing in the middle-order for New South Wales. It takes time to build the confidence and keep doing it. Eventually, I got back into the team by scoring runs for New South Wales and sort of never looked back since then."

 

Smith has since gone on to be recognised as the best batsman in the world in the longest form of the game. He boasts a Test average of 62.84 in 73 Tests and has scored 26 centuries.

 

After spending a year away from the game due to a ban imposed for his alleged role in the 2018 ball tampering scandal, Smith announced his return to the Test arena by smashing 774 runs in the 2019 Ashes series.

 



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