steve smith has landed.
At another time, the arrival of an Australian of such stock – the vice-captain, no less – before the summer of the Ashes might have drawn more fanfare. He was greeted by the press as he stepped off the plane, with photographers snapping his eyes as he pushed the trolley through immigration in national team attire.
Instead, the 33-year-old arrived in the UK at the weekend with little fuss ahead of a three-game stint with Sussex. Coming to Australia, but not now and certainly not all at once. Nevertheless, as Smith was officially unveiled at the Pavilion in Hove, decked out in the club’s unfurled baby blue-trimmed stash, while pigeons fed on freshly laid seed on the outfield, the Ashes The cogs finally started turning.
This will be his first experience in the County Championship. A previous foray into Shires came in 2010 via a short stint for Worcestershire in the T20 Blast. As it happens, they would be their first opponents before taking on Leicestershire and then Glamorgan, their only match at “home”.
Older and wiser, he is determined to make himself as useful as possible to a young squad that is slowly turning its fortunes around with runs and advice on the field. Sussex head coach Paul Farbrace believes Smith will benefit from time in the system to fully explain the county and domestic system. The latter put special emphasis.
Farbrace certainly does not subscribe to the view that giving valuable preparation to a rival batsman ahead of the Ashes amounts to professional treason. “I have good friends who think we are helping Australia win the Ashes,” he said with a smile. “We are not at all.”
Nor does he oppose something that he, chief executive Rob Andrew and Sussex are doing to damage English cricket. Talks are happening, it is a good thing.
“Sports is all about opinion,” said Farbrace. “That’s what we love about the game. I have very strong views on Chelsea. The fact that people are talking about Championship cricket is only good for the game.”
It was down to Smith to cut through the noise respectfully. “I’ve seen a lot of talk about getting used to the conditions,” he said. “But you have to remember I’ve played a lot of cricket in England before. So the conditions aren’t really new to me if that makes sense.” It certainly does: a record of 16 Tests, six hundreds and an average of 59.55 here suggests he is exceedingly familiar with these conditions.
Smith, who opted out of the IPL by skipping the auction, has spent the last few weeks resting in Australia. That downtime means plenty of time to put out bold proclamations on the other side of the world.
After Cricket Australia re-posted a quote from Stuart Broad that he would enjoy watching Smith attempt to copy England’s attacking style and “skip the skies above one from the opening door”, England were quick to clarify. Took it in the comments section. Broad wrote, “To be honest, I love it every time we get him out, either way, because he averages 60.” Smith, thumbs down, saw an opportunity and replied: “Hopefully 65 by the end of the summer”.
Smith said of the exchange, “I had some friendly chats with Brody, as you all probably saw the other day.” What, then, did he make of Broad’s claim that the 2021-22 series, which England lost 4-0, was a “zero series” Due to covid restrictions?
“I mean, it was a little weird,” Smith said. “We were all there and playing so it was a bit awkward, you know? He’s a good guy and likes to have some good banter, so it’s all part of it.
“It definitely wasn’t the ideal scenario. But the whole world was going through it and we were in the middle of a pandemic, so we really couldn’t complain too much. We were really out there doing what we love, were able to.” So I really don’t have anything else to add to that.”
No doubt there will be more to come. For now, Smith is inching towards a return to competitive action, having started the season with the Second XI on Monday before going into bat with the first team on Tuesday morning.
they did it together in the nets Cheteshwar PujaraHe was their captain for these three matches before becoming rivals for the WTC final at The Oval in a month’s time. If Pujara is batting at number three, Smith will come at number five. “I haven’t been that low for a while,” he said. “I’ve played against Pujara a lot, seen him score a lot of runs. So it will be nice to spend some time in the middle with him and build some good partnerships.”
Another intriguing team-mate of the dynamic to chat with will be the England pacer Ollie Robinson, Robinson excited about Australia being handed over by the hosts “a good hide”, He also turned around the statement that Smith in Sussex has been detrimental to the national side, suggesting that it might be good to “see him better in the nets”. Robinson also suggested that he might choose not to bowl to Smith in order to keep his cards close to his chest. He ended up doing this on Monday to good effect.
Smith revealed, “Ollie really bowled to me yesterday.” “I missed a third ball and he dropped me. So it was not ideal.
“But I was really impressed with him when he got out in Australia. I thought he had some really good skills. He’s quite tall, he hit some good areas and it looks like he’s gotten better since So I am looking forward to playing.” with him this week.”
Smith said it also allows him to reign over Robinson, which touches on an aspect lost in the framing of all this. Despite what Smith has accomplished so far, this summer is one of huge opportunities
To be the world test champion is the pride of modern times. The traditional pull of the Ashes is a bit high this time, this will be Smith’s fourth tour of England and he is yet to win a single. Australia’s last victory on these shores came in 2001.
They were close in 2019, losing the last Test at The Oval to a two-all draw. keeping the urn academically up to a point not winning four years earlier, although Smith’s exploits in that series elevated him to legendary status.
After missing the Headingley Test after falling to a Jofra Archer bouncer at Lord’s, he scored 774 runs at an average of 110.57 in just four matches. As much as this series was for Smith after returning from a year-long ban for his part in the 2018 sandpaper controversy, the result is something he is keen to improve upon. Ideally, when posting the same number.
Smith said of the prospect of winning in England, “I think that would be huge to tick off the bucket list.” “We haven’t been able to do that, but we came close last time and didn’t quite get over the line. It’s definitely something that will be high on my bucket list and everyone else on the team as well.”
“I’ve got a lot of good memories from 2019 and the way I played and I would love to repeat that and do something like that.”
All going well, the third Test at Headingley would bring Smith’s 100th cap. Fittingly it was on his first trip to England in 2013 that he scored the first of 30 centuries, marking the beginning of a transformation from the awkward leg-spinner to the more modern batting maestro. Could this be his last tour?
“This will be my fourth (Ashes) tour. Could it be my last? Potentially. I mean, I turn 34 in just under a month. I’m not sure I’ll be back. We will see.”