Steve Smith is ramping up preparations for the upcoming test challenge

By Real11 - Dec 12 2023 178 Views

Steve Smith gets back to the grind

Steve Smith was seen sweating it out in Australia’s optional training session at the WACA ground on Monday. 

It begun at 01:30 PM on the dot, and Smith was there, the first and only player out there practising on a lone centre-wicket net with coach Andrew Mcdonald and bowling coach Daniel Vettori. 

While Australia’s two World Cup stars Travis Head and Mitchell Marsh and the bowlers took a day off, Smith was seen grinding, ramping up preparations for the upcoming test match. Mastering his defence. His leave. Facing a high volume of throw downs. 

“It was a good hit out," Smith said before the training session at the iconic Perth Stadium on Tuesday. "It was nice to use the centre-wicket out at the WACA. Usually, it's pretty similar in terms of pace and bounce to what we get out here. I feel like I'm hitting the ball nicely so it's good prep and I'll get another hit in today. See how we go. I might come tomorrow if I feel I need it. If not, I'll put my feet up and get ready for Thursday."

The sun is setting down on Warner’s test career, and there are speculations that Smith will soon follow his teammate’s foot trails. But his desire to get better and insatiate appetite to score runs show no signs of him hanging his boots any time soon. 

"I'm not in any hurry to make any decisions," Smith said.

The test summer in Australia has begun and it has been dominated by the talk of who will replace Warner at the top of the order, and if Lance Morris is ready for an international debut. 

But whether Smith will return to its very best is a question lingering in the background. In a year highlighted by incredible team feats and triumphs, Smith has been below his own extraordinarily high standards and it is something he has admitted himself. 

He failed to compile a half century on the test tour of India. A lean patch that would have been unimaginable before the tour given his remarkable performance in the 2017 series. 

His scintillating century in the World Test Championship final should not be forgotten or underestimated, but it was Head’s knock that grabbed the headlines. 

That ton sent baleful warning signs to the Three Lions ahead of the Ashes series. The ghosts of 2019 haunted them again at Lords’ with another sublime away Ashes century. But his tour was cut short by a wrist injury although he fought through for two half centuries in the final test at the Oval in a losing cause. 

The wrist tendon injury took a toll on Smith’s ODI World Cup preparations. He was now only a passenger rather than a leading man in Australia’s successful run to the title. His unwillingness to stick to Australia’s ultra attacking method resulted in him getting demoted to number 4, much to his rancour. 

But his worth to Australia’s test side still remains high. Even in an average year, he notched up three centuries and two half centuries in 20 innings.  His calendar year average of 43.16 is the fourth best behind Usman Khawaja, Travis Head and Mitchel Marsh by an Australian batter. But it’s still quite below his bewildering career mark. That has fallen from 61.62 this time last year, after the last Perth Test against the Caribbean where he scored an unbeaten 200, to 58.61, his lowest mark since the start of the 2016-2017 Pakistan tour.  

He knows he has been underperforming in test cricket of late and one of Test cricket’s greatest players has his eyes on ensuring normal service restarts. 

“Just score runs," Smith said. "I don't have to sort of reinvent the wheel. I think I've performed at a high standard for a long period of time. You're right, I was probably below my standards of what I want. So, for me, it's not overthinking it, not overplaying too much, not changing too much. Just going out and trusting what I do and doing it for longer periods of time hopefully to get the big runs and hopefully help our team be successful."

He was seen grinding it out in the nets on Tuesday. Facing Aussie speedsters. Facing McDonlad’s throws. Renowned as ‘Mr Cricket’, Micheal Hussey had been called in to assist the coaching staff monitor the throwing workload at training. 

Smith’ teammates suffered some meaty blows on the spicy green tinged surfaces. Middle stumps were sent flying. Outside edges were found. Smith looked sumptuous despite a meaty blow on the gloves, batting until he was told to let others take a turn. He sat and patiently waited until his teammates got over with before returning for some more practice. 

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