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Ashes 2019 | Write Smith Off at Your Own Peril: Waugh

Cricketnext Staff |July 30, 2019, 7:45 AM IST
Ashes 2019 | Write Smith Off at Your Own Peril: Waugh

Former Australian captain and current team mentor Steve Waugh is extremely pleased with Steve Smith's preparations for the upcoming Ashes series that will get underway in Birmingham from August 1 (Thursday) and has warned the English team to be aware of the 30-year-old.

Smith looked good in patches during the 2019 World Cup but now having spent over two months in England, the former Australian captain will be looking to make a major impact in the five-match series.

"The thing I know about Steve Smith is he always finds a way. If someone's going to write him off, or say he's not what he used to be, they do that at their peril because he's a guy that finds a way," said Waugh, who led Australia to an Ashes win here in England in 2001.

"His training and his work ethic is exceptional, I've never seen a guy hit as many balls. He'll be thoroughly prepared for the first Test match."

Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft haven't played any Test cricket since last year's Cape Town controversy and are expected to receive relentless booing from the crowd. However, Waugh thinks that the crowd will appreciate good cricket but even if they get taunted, the trio are experienced enough to handle the challenge.

"From my experience with English crowds, I am sure they want England to win but when opposition teams play well - and we’ve had success here - the English crowds are the best in the world," he said.

"They really appreciate good cricket, and I hope that’s going to be the case. There will be a small element that’s going to make it tough for our guys, but that’s professional sport and it's water off a duck’s back that sort of stuff.

"They’re ready for it and they’ve experienced it before. Their main focus is playing well, and once you go out in the middle, you are cocooned from all that sort of noise."

Waugh also heaped heavy praise on Bancroft and called him the "best ever" short-leg fielder.

“The one thing I have been amazed by is Cameron Bancroft’s short leg practise. I had a session with him the other day and I’ve never seen anything like it.

“I hit probably forty balls to him at close range, back in our day he might have caught ten of those. I think he caught 39. So if he plays, England beware because he’s the best short leg I’ve ever seen.

“When we were playing, no-one wanted to be in at short leg and it was like a torture chamber to put someone in there but he just loves it.”

Talking about his role, Waugh said: "It’s basically just knowledge, and maybe a little bit of a roadmap from throughout my career. I started playing for Australia and didn’t score a century till my 26th Test, and didn’t win a Test until my 13th Test.

"So I went from there to sort of being the number one batsman in the world, winning 16 Tests (n succession) and two World Cups. I’ve seen and been a part of all the negative stuff, all the tough stuff and the exciting times when we were the number one team in the world.

"It's a variety of experiences that I can pass on to all the cricketers, make them feel comfortable and relaxed and let them know it’s going to be okay if things aren’t quite working out. That if you do certain things, how you’ll get through it.

"So it’s passing on knowledge that I’ve acquired over the years."

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