Smith has eyes set on World Cup after injury scare

Sydney, (UNI) Australia star batter Steve Smith disclosed how he played the last three Ashes Tests with an injured left wrist.

Smith is expected to be fit for Australia’s ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 campaign in India in October-November.

The side will play a three-game ODI series against the hosts before featuring in the Cricket World Cup 2023. The five-time champions will hope that their star batter, who has 834 runs at an average of 46.33 in the event, is at his very best in India.

Smith’s importance lies beyond the bat, as was highlighted by former Australia opener Matthew Hayden. Australia’s ODI captain Pat Cummins is barely one year into the job, and Smith’s presence could help his side on the field, an ICC report said.

“We’ve always had a very settled Australian captain with vast experience when you think back to the World Cups – Allan Border’s World Cup-winning effort here in India (1987 World Cup), lots of experience. It was a legacy captaincy, and you could go right down through the ages: Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke were all World Cup winners, and (with) vast experience,” Hayden said while speaking at an event in Mumbai.

“It’s got to help, there’s no doubt about it. But between the other characters like Steve Smith – you’ve seen how visible he is when Pat’s got the ball in his hand, he’s flapping around as he busily does anyway. But he has got a good wingman in Steve Smith as well, again with lots of experience. So, I’m not saying it’s a team captaincy, but I think it’s a solution that Australia’s got covered,” he said.

However, Smith will miss the upcoming limited-overs tour of South Africa starting on August 30. A build-up to the global mega event, Australia’s visit to Africa comprises of three T20Is and five ODIs.

Smith was a part of Australia’s T20I squad and was expecting to open the innings after a good showing in the Big Bash League.

“It’s unfortunate, I wanted to go and open the batting in the T20s,” Smith expressed his disappointment while speaking to AAP. “Anyone would want to open in T20 cricket. It was cool to be able to show what I could do in the Big Bash. Hopefully I can replicate that internationally as well.”

Smith was the Player of the Match in the Lord’s Test, for his brilliant 110 in the first innings which helped Australia secure a 43-run win despite a major onslaught by England skipper Ben Stokes on the final day.

Smith sustained tendon damage in his left wrist while fielding in the deep on the final day.

The Australia player revealed the extent of his injury and how he tried to overcome it.

“I must have just landed awkwardly. It was quite painful at Headingley (where the third Ashes Test was played). Even in the lead-in, I didn’t hit that much in the nets,” Smith said.

“I was just trying to find a way to hold the bat that wasn’t painful. After that, some shots I played, cross-bat and back-foot punching I was sore. Trying to decelerate the bat was hard, or defending sometimes was sore. But it wasn’t awful,” he said.

Smith’s performance dipped in the third and fourth Tests, where he merely added 82 runs in four innings. However, the veteran returned to good form in the final game at The Oval where he scored 71 and 54 respectively.

“Maybe it did, I’m not sure,” Smith discussed the impact of injury on his form. “I was a bit disappointed with my batting. I got a few starts but just didn’t kick on to get a big score.”

“I felt really good in the first innings at The Oval, I probably hit the trigger a bit early. But until that point I didn’t feel as if I was going to get out. Even in the second innings I felt good there. But I just didn’t capitalise on a few starts as much as I would have liked,” Smith added.

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