Steve Smith, who created history on Monday by becoming just the third ever Australian to win four Allan Border medals, asserted that he ‘enjoys’ batting on Indian pitches that turn extravagantly, and claimed that wickets in the subcontinent favor him for they tend to suit his style of play.
Smith, in his career, averages 60.00 in India and the last time Australia toured India, back in 2017, he proved to be head and shoulders above every other batter in the series, amassing 499 runs at an average of 71.28, striking three tons. One of those three tons came on a rank turner in Pune — where India were bowled out for 105 and 107 — and it is, to date, regarded one of the finest knocks of Smith’s career.
The 33-year-old will once again be Australia’s talisman as they aim to become the first team in 11 years to win a series in India, and according to him, the key to success in the subcontinent is ‘playing according to the surface that’s in front’.
“I think some subcontinent wickets suit the style of play that I have,” Smith said of India, reported smh.com.au.
“I really enjoy playing on those spinning tracks there, so much fun and there’s always something happening.
“But you know, if they’re not the spinning ones and they’re a bit flatter there, the ones where you can really cash in and you have to make big, big scores. I think that’s certainly one thing that I’ll be telling the boys when we get over there.
“That’s one of my experiences that I’ve had, and you can only play according to the surface that’s in front of you.”
Smith finished 2022 with an average of 58.40 in Tests and 67.37 in ODIs — numbers which contributed to him winning the AB medal — and much has already been written and spoken about the tweak in his technique that has enabled him to rediscover the best version of himself.
The 33-year-old revealed that, for the longest time, he’d been trying to get back to batting the way he’d been 7-8 years ago and the eureka moment occurred during a net session in Adelaide, in the midst of the T20 World Cup last year.
“I’ve looked at footage for so long like you wouldn’t believe, just of innings mainly in 2015,” he said.
“I think that was when I was batting my best in the Indian series at home and throughout that World Cup and that’s my blueprint that I always go back to, to try and figure out what I was doing there.
“I finally got there. I was in the nets. I think it might have been in Adelaide just before the T20 game against Afghanistan. I felt like I’d found something and then I got COVID.
“I played with COVID that game and I didn’t really get a chance to get in the middle to sort of implement it. And then the next game I played was against England and that game I think, I scored 80 not out.
“And yeah, that was just the first time I’d put it all into practice in the middle and it just clicked for me. We’re always looking for those things to make you better. Fortunate that I stumbled across it finally and hopefully, it keeps working well for me.”
Since the tweak in technique, Smith has amassed scores of 80* and 94 in ODIs, smashed a double-ton in the longest format and has struck back-to-back tons in the BBL representing the Sixers. He has, put simply, looked as good as he has in years.
He revealed that he knew he was back to his best the moment he crunched that cover drive off the bowling of Olly Stone.
I'm back, baby! #AUSvENG pic.twitter.com/7pLXABkUQy— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) November 17, 2022
“It was probably that ball that I hit through the covers, just my weight transfer through the ball,” he said.
“The way my hands went through it and I’d felt it a little bit in the nets but I hadn’t implemented it in the game yet.
“So as soon as I hit that shot I was kind of like, I’ve just found something has clicked. It’s the rhythm I’ve been searching for and yeah, I made it pretty clear, I think straight away. So yeah, a bold statement but it felt as though it, you know, I’d nailed it.”
Australia will begin their four-Test series against India in Nagpur on Thursday, February 9th.