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ICC World Cup 2019 | How 'Freak' Smith Stumped Maxwell With His Off Spin

Cricketnext Staff |July 4, 2019, 9:33 AM IST
ICC World Cup 2019 | How 'Freak' Smith Stumped Maxwell With His Off Spin

Steve Smith flummoxed one and all none more than his own teammates when he unleashed a new weapon in his armoury during Australia's group game against New Zealand - off spin. Brought onto bowl in the 33rd over, Smith struck with his very delivery getting rid of Colin de Grandhomme - his first wicket in almost five years - with a loopy leg-break.

However, when Jimmy Neesham came out to bat next, Smith changed to off spin leaving not just Neesham surprised but also his fellow teammates.

"It caught me off guard," teammate Glenn Maxwell told reporters on the sidelines of Australia's group game against South Africa, in Manchester.

"I was at cover and (Smith) goes, 'I think I am going to bowl offies,' and I said, 'really?' He goes, 'yeah.' He said, 'geez, I am nervous about this.'

"It was just a short boundary to a left-hander. If he'd tried to bowl leggies they probably would have taken him on. It certainly caught them off guard as well.

"I saw the look in Jimmy Neesham's face and he was like, 'what was that?'"

Smith's rise from being someone who came into the side purely as a leg-spinner to one of the best batsmen in world cricket has been unprecedented. Hailing him as a "freak", Maxwell said that at training too the former captain had been switching between leg spin and off spin and still getting to land them pretty well.

"He is a freak," said Maxwell. "Even today at training, he was just changing (between off-spin and leg-spin) ball to ball and still being able to land them. He's extremely skillful.

"And he's been doing the job with the bat as well."

Smith bowled just two overs going for six runs and though there were a few full tosses involved, he more or less looked pretty comfortable at the bowling crease. Maxwell, who has largely played the role of the bowling all-rounder in the side so far this World Cup, reckons Smith can be a real handful in the coming games as well.

"I thought he bowled really well," he said. "You are putting pressure on both edges of the bat by changing it as well, from off spin to leg spin.

"Leg spin is a pretty hard thing, especially when you only practice it half the time. It just shows what a talent he is."

(Image: Twitter)

Talking about his own batting, Maxwell said that despite not getting the big runs he felt he has been hitting the ball really well. The all-rounder is yet to register a half-century this tournament but that is largely because the in-form Australian top-order hasn't really given him a chance.

He did have a few decent stints such as a 10-ball 32 against Bangladesh and a 25-ball 46* against Sri Lanka earlier.

"I feel I have not hit the ball better in my career. It is nice to be relaxed whenever I go out in the middle. Runs probably haven't come the way I would have liked but hopefully they are not far away," said Maxwell.

"I don't feel I need a knock. If I was out of form and out of I runs I would have probably been more nervous. If I was getting beaten repeatedly, I'd been a bit more worried but I have been sitting the middle of the bat quite well, training really well."

Maxwell did not play the IPL this year and instead signed a deal with the county Lancashire in a bid to get acclimatised to the English conditions. He said his decision to not go to the IPL was a good one as getting used to the conditions has kept him in good stead at the World Cup.

"Think having that month here, getting used to the conditions, getting my technique right for these conditions has benefitted to me and I hope to cash in at this time of the tournament," Maxwell quipped.

"The runs haven't flown as much I would have liked but I feel it very good touch. I have been able to play my role over last few games."

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Cricket World Cup Points Table

9 7 1 1 15 +0.80
9 7 2 0 14 +0.86
9 6 3 0 12 +1.15
9 5 3 1 11 +0.17
9 5 3 1 11 -0.43
9 3 4 2 8 -0.91
9 3 5 1 7 -0.03
9 3 5 1 7 -0.41
9 2 6 1 5 -0.22
9 0 9 0 0 -1.32

Team Rankings

Rank Team Points Rating
1 India 3631 113
2 New Zealand 2547 111
3 South Africa 2917 108
4 England 3663 105
5 Australia 2640 98
see more
Rank Team Points Rating
1 England 6420 123
2 India 6807 122
3 New Zealand 4763 113
4 Australia 5470 112
5 South Africa 5193 110
see more
Rank Team Points Rating
1 Pakistan 7365 283
2 England 4253 266
3 South Africa 4196 262
4 Australia 5471 261
5 India 7273 260
see more