Vodafone Test Series v India
Smith trains strongly on eve of first Test
Steve Smith batted for over an hour a day out from the first Vodafone Test against India to allay fears over his sore back
Sam Ferris in Adelaide
16 December 2020, 05:05 PM AEST
Australia's coaches, selectors and the smattering of fans watching on at the Adelaide Oval nets breathed a sigh of relief as they watched Steve Smith return to training on the eve of the first Vodafone Test.
Smith missed Tuesday's full-squad session after his back tightened up on the cusp of training, which required medical attention.
The 31-year-old underwent physiotherapy on what was called 'lower back soreness' by a team spokesperson.
He left the ground gingerly on Tuesday evening but was noticeably looser this afternoon facing sidearm throws from assistant coach Matthew Mott and medium pace from allrounder Moises Henriques.
The first batter in the nets, Smith did not appear to have his full range of motion early on in the net session, occasionally grunting as he picked up a ball, but as the practice hit went on he moved with more freedom and played with a wider range of strokes.
The animated mannerisms and exaggerated calling he's become known for weren't on full display, but perhaps he's saving them for the theatre of Test match cricket.
Smith batted for approximately 50 minutes, leaving the nets with two bats and several pairs of gloves. As he ditched his gear, he gave an encouraging nod to national selector Trevor Hohns, who was keenly spectating at the back of the Adelaide Oval nets.
After a quick breather, cold drink and change of gloves, Smith went in for a second hit, this time against the sidearm throws of coach Justin Langer for 15 minutes to conclude his time in the nets ahead of the showdown against India.
Australia captain Tim Paine spoke on Thursday morning and said the day off from training might benefit Smith, who has typically hit a huge amount of pink balls since arriving in Adelaide last Wednesday.
"Steve's had a stiff back a number of times before and you do when you bat at training as much as he does," Paine said.
"But his preparation has been very good, he's batted for the last week since we've been in Adelaide, so for him to have a day off might actually be a blessing in disguise yesterday.
"We expect him to play."
Vodafone Test Series v India 2020-21
Australia Test squad: Tim Paine (c), Joe Burns, Pat Cummins, Cameron Green, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Moises Henriques, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Will Pucovski, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, Matthew Wade, David Warner
India Test squad: Virat Kohli (c) (first Test only), Ajinkya Rahane (vice-captain), Rohit Sharma, Mayank Agarwal, Prithvi Shaw, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Hanuma Vihari, Shubman Gill, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Rishabh Pant (wk), Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Navdeep Saini, Kuldeep Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammed Siraj
Second Test: December 26-30, MCG, 10.30am AEDT
Third Test: January 7-11, SCG, 10.30am AEDT
Fourth Test: January 15-19, Gabba, 11am AEDT