Dettol ODI Series v India
Australia welcome Indian bouncer barrage to Smith
Assistant coach Andrew McDonald says Australia's star batter has thrived against short-ball tactics in the past
22 November 2020, 04:37 PM AEST
Australia are unfazed by the potential of an Indian short-ball assault against Steve Smith this summer, with assistant coach Andrew McDonald pointing to the most recent meeting between the sides as proof the star batter can combat the strategy.
Smith, the world's top-ranked Test batter, has shown some signs of fallibility against short-pitched pace bowling in the past 18 months; he was concussed by a Jofra Archer bouncer at Lord's last year, while Kiwi speedster Neil Wagner had him dismissed four times with short balls last summer.
He also missed Australia's three-match ODI series in England this year after being concussed when struck by a ball during a net session.
McDonald, Australia's assistant and Smith's IPL coach, pointed out that the right-hander made an Ashes double century at Old Trafford not long after the Archer incident at Lord's, while he also thrived against a predominantly leg-side field on a one-day tour of India in January.
"I know within a Test match he had that moment with Archer where he got him,” McDonald said.
"But in terms of coming back off that, he was still able to score runs. Even in one-day cricket and T20 cricket, he's been able to score runs with that plan being adopted by opponents.
"So, I don't necessarily see it as a weakness … they can keep approaching it that way if they want."
McDonald filled in for Justin Langer as head coach for a three-match ODI series in India earlier this year, where Smith posted scores of 98 and 131 after the hosts employed some attacking fielders on the leg side early in his innings.
McDonald expects to see a similar plan to several of Australia's top-order batters in the upcoming Dettol ODI Series, which starts on Friday, to limit their scoring options down the ground.
But he says the recent Indian series proves the short stuff doesn’t worry Smith.
"They had a clear plan early on in the innings," McDonald recalled. "They had a leg gully, a deep square and a deep man just in front of square and they had everyone up on the off side during the Powerplay.
"So that's a tactic they've used before and it's probably to negate the runs that he scores and to try and give themselves the best opportunity to potentially get him out in that area.
"But he was able to combat that in India last time … so he’s had that before and he’s worked his way through it. I see this series being no different in the way he approaches it.
"They've used it before and he's done well with it before so I’m suggesting that plan hasn’t necessarily worked to its full effect.
"He's working on it as he normally would and there doesn't seem to be any sort of deficiency there."
On a Test front, Smith says he’s unfazed if Indian speedsters Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammad Shami and Ishant Sharma target him with short bowling in the Border-Gavaskar Series, saying Wagner's left-arm angle and skiddy style of bowling last summer made him a unique proposition to face.
"It's no dramas for me. I just play the game and sum up the conditions, how they're trying to get me out and being able to counter that," Smith told News Corp last week.
"If teams are trying to get me out like that it's probably a big benefit for the team because it takes a lot out of people’s bodies if you continually bowl short.
"I've faced a lot of short bowling in my life and I haven't had too many stresses with it. I suppose we'll just wait and see."
Smith is coming off statistically the least productive IPL campaign of his career, with the Rajasthan skipper finishing the tournament with 311 runs at 25.91 and a strike rate of 131.22 as his Royals finished last on the table.
However, McDonald warned against judging Smith too harshly against his own high standards.
"The standards he's set have been pretty high over a long period of time," McDonald said. "So any time he has a slight drop off, it comes up for discussion and some criticism at times.
"I can't put my finger on specifically why it was he didn't have the IPL he or Rajasthan wanted. All I can say is his preparation has been outstanding ... and that's all in training at the moment. The ability to go out there come the 27th (of November for the first ODI) is the key point in that.
"He's preparing as well as he can be. I'm not guaranteeing that he's going to perform in the one-day series, but he's given himself the best chance to do that."
Dettol ODI Series v India 2020
Australia ODI & T20 squad: Aaron Finch (c), Sean Abbott, Ashton Agar, Alex Carey , Pat Cummins (vc), Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Moises Henriques, Marnus Labuschagne, Glenn Maxwell, Daniel Sams, Steven Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Andrew Tye, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Adam Zampa
India ODI squad: Virat Kohli (c), Shikhar Dhawan, Shubman Gill, KL Rahul (wk), Sanju Samson (wk), Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, Mayank Agarwal, Ravindra Jadeja, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Navdeep Saini, Shardul Thakur.
First ODI: November 27, SCG, 2.40pm AEDT
Second ODI: November 29, SCG, 2.40pm AEDT
Third ODI: December 2, Manuka Oval, 2.40pm AEDT
*The matches and travel remain subject to any relevant government restrictions or requirements