On day one of the first Ashes Test, the focus was on Steve Smith, who was making a comeback to the longer format after a gap of 16 months following the ball-tampering scandal. And he hasn’t looked rusty by any means. In fact, he pulled his team out of the pits in the first innings with a sparkling knock of 144 off 219 balls, decorated with 16 glorious boundaries and a couple of sixes.
Smith added 88 and 74 for the ninth and tenth wicket along with Peter Siddle and Nathan Lyon and took Aussies to a respectable first-innings total of 284. Stuart Broad cleaned him up, but by then Smith had already shown his class and calibre. At the close of play on Day Three, the visitors are led by 34 runs and have Smith, batting on 46 off 61, along with the left-handed Travis Head.
The Sydney-born Smith came in after the Aussies lost David Warner and Cameron Bancroft cheaply one again. In the meantime, Mitchell Johnson, the former Australian fast bowler, was asked about how to get the better of Smith, who’s in prime form. The 37-year-old Johnson felt that one needs to bowl to his strength, which is also an opportunity to catch the batsman napping.
You have to pack the leg-side field
“Look it’s a pretty difficult question. I used to get frustrated bowling to him in the nets. And that’s in a net situation, not a game where he digs in even more. Just from my experience, it’s bowling very straight at the start with a hardball that’s swinging or maybe doing enough is bowling to his strength,” Johnson Was quoted as saying in ESPNcricinfo.
“But is also an opportunity to get him out. You have to pack the leg-side field and bowl really straight. Then you have a chance to get him out LBW or one could go across him and you could nick him off with a hardball. Easier said than done. After that it’s about keeping it simple,” Johnson, who has nearly 600 international wickets, mentioned.
Prior to the ongoing Test at the Edgbaston in Birmingham, Smith had an average of 61.37 in the format, which is bound to escalate after the conclusion of the match. He has the second-best average in Test cricket after the legendary Sir Donald Bradman and it shows the dominance Smith has had over the time period.
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