Men's Ashes 2021-22
Restricted Smith confident elbow will be right for Ashes
Australia's leading Test batter and most fastidious trainer is still building up the frequency of his net sessions during the World Cup
26 October 2021, 06:30 PM AEST
Steve Smith remains confident his troublesome elbow will come good for the Ashes despite still being forced to limit how much he bats at training between Australia's T20 World Cup games.
A left elbow concern sidelined Smith from limited-overs tours earlier this year and at one stage he suggested he may have to prioritise the Vodafone Ashes over the World Cup if forced to choose.
Thankfully for Aaron Finch's side no such decision was required and the 32-year-old has since made a successful return to playing, with the right-hander shaping as an important factor in the Aussies' bid to win a maiden men's world T20 title.
Renowned for his thorough, bordering on obsessive, training regimen that sees him hit thousands of balls in the nets, Smith revealed there are still restrictions on the frequency of his batting sessions.
"I've tried to bat (only) every second day, or not bat three days in a row, just to take a bit of load off. On the days I'm batting, I'm batting for as long as I want to, which is nice," said Australia's leading Test batter.
Smith, who top-scored with 35 in Australia's World Cup-opening win over South Africa on the weekend, explained the measures were a progression from previous net sessions where he gradually increased the length of how long he batted for.
"I'm still taking it easy at the moment" he said. "I'll build up again as we get closer to playing some longer format stuff.
"It (his elbow) is in a good place, it feels really good. I'm continuing with my strength work and my rehab stuff – I feel like I'm going well and progressing along nicely, so I've got no real concerns (for the Ashes)."
Smith's elbow injury stemmed from pain he felt in his left wrist last summer following a change to his batting grip, leaving him sidelined for part of the domestic season in the months after the India Test campaign had concluded.
Speaking to reporters from the UAE on Tuesday, he noted New Zealand captain Kane Williamson was currently dealing with a similar injury.
Smith, who welcomed the news that Ben Stokes would make his return to international cricket in Australia this summer, insisted the tight turnaround time between the World Cup and Ashes should not have a major impact on his side's preparation for the Test series.
It is not dissimilar to last summer when he, along with a host of Australia's all-format players, went more than three months playing white-ball cricket (in England, at the IPL, then against India at home) before the start of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
It appears unlikely the Australian World Cup squad members selected in the Ashes squad will be able to play in the Marsh Sheffield Shield upon their return home.
And with the one-off Test match against Afghanistan expected to be postponed, the hosts look set to follow the plans of their England rivals with a focus on intra-squad hit-outs ahead of the first Test at the Gabba on December 8.
"It will just be hitting plenty of balls in lead up – there's really not too much else we can do in the times of this pandemic," said Smith.
"It's pretty limited … in terms of playing longer forms of cricket.
"We're going to be having some really good solid centre wickets and training sessions where I know our fast bowlers are going to be firing up getting themselves ready for the series as well.
"There will be no shortage of quality practice. I'm excited by the summer – the Ashes is the pinnacle for an Australian or English cricketer."
Vodafone Men's Ashes v England
First Test: December 8-12, The Gabba
Second Test: December 16-20, Adelaide Oval
Third Test: December 26-30, MCG
Fourth Test: January 5-9, SCG
Fifth Test: January 14-18, Perth Stadium