Caribbean Premier League

Smith mimics Pakistan ace in bowling revamp

To combat his 'old age', Smith has decided to copy a cricket journeyman's action, and so far it's working

Sam Ferris

23 August 2018, 03:04 PM

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Australian batsman Steve Smith is channeling mercurial Pakistan legend Shahid Afridi in a bid to revamp his neglected bowling career.

Smith claimed 2-19 from three overs, in addition to a 44-ball knock of 63, in Barbados's thrilling two-wicket win over Jamaica in the Caribbean Premier League today.

His performance won him man-of-the-match honours, but it was his leg-spin that generated the most attention as he removed both Jamaica openers Johnson Charles and Glenn Phillips in the space of five balls.

And he could have had a third if a catch on the boundary was taken. Ultimately, it did not cost the Tridents, who defended 3-154 in a tense finish on American soil in Florida.

When asked about his match-turning spell, Smith said it was "heyday stuff" and that at the ripe old age of 29, he's had to rethink how he bowls the leggies that saw him break into Australia's Test team eight years ago.

"I've changed a few things – I'm trying to base my action off Shahid Afridi actually, and try and bowl quite fast and into the wicket," Smith told the host broadcaster after play.

"There wasn't a heap of bounce on this wicket so you could almost hit that back-of-a-length and make them go across the line.

"Fortunately, it worked tonight."

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When asked why he chose Afridi, the ace leg-spinner who claimed 541 international wickets in career that's spanned more than two decades, Smith said: "Why not? The bloke's played for a long time. He's been a terrific leg-spinner.

"As I'm getting a bit older I can't walk in anymore and bowl as fast as I need to, so I've got a bit more momentum through my run-up so I can get the ball down a bit quicker, otherwise it just goes miles.

"So yeah, change it up and it works."

Smith made his Test debut in 2010 as a blond-haired leg-spinner, batting at No.8 at Lord's against Pakistan, who were captained by Afridi.

He's claimed 61 international wickets, but in recent years has been reluctant to bowl himself. 

In a move that's proven to be inconceivably productive, Smith put his leg-spinners to one side a few years into his Test career to focus solely on his batting, which history will show was an incredibly wise decision.

Sit back and enjoy Steve Smith's full highlights

Smith, at the time of writing, is the No.1 Test batsman in the world and has broken dozens of batting records, with only the feats of Sir Donald Bradman stopping him from claiming more.

But with 12 months to tinker with his game as he sits out from international and Australian domestic cricket for his involvement in the Cape Town ball-tampering scandal, perhaps the sight of Smith rolling the arm over in the style of Afridi will become more common.

Smith's Barbados sit fifth on the CPL ladder but have played only three matches, winning two.

The side now returns home for five consecutive matches, with their next fixture set for Saturday against St Kitts.

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