Steve Smith has long been known to eat, sleep and breathe cricket, but the extent of his obsession has even taken Justin Langer and Ricky Ponting by surprise.
Langer said recently the New South Welshman is always shadow batting — even in the shower.
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“I don’t know how he’s spying on me in the shower! Good on him,” Smith said. “Yeah I’m known to play a few shots here and there.”
Ponting said recently Smith is such a hard worker he sometimes needs to be told to hit less balls in the nets so he doesn’t wear himself out and the right-hander said knowing when to ease off the intensity is something he’s had to learn over time.
But he still picks up a bat first thing in the morning.
“I always have a bat in my room and Ricky was actually rooming about 10 rooms up from me (in the hotel) the other day and said, ‘Were you batting at 7 o’clock this morning?’ He could hear me tapping on the ground and I said, ‘Yeah I was actually’.”
Whatever Smith’s doing now is working, because he’s scored three half-centuries in five matches at the World Cup. The returning star said he had no expectations about what level his batting would be at after 12 months out of the international scene but is pleased he’s hit the ground running in England.
“I really didn’t have any sort of expectations of where I wanted to be, it was just about doing whatever I could to just play good cricket again and hopefully put the team in winning positions,” Smith said.
“And I felt really good in the back end of IPL, the warm-up matches in Brisbane, the warm-up matches here and, you know, wanted to make an impact in the real stuff and fortunately so far I guess I’ve been able to have some contributions without going on to make a big score yet but hopefully that’s around the corner.”
SMITH ON KOHLI’S ‘LOVELY GESTURE’
Smith has praised Virat Kohli’s “lovely gesture” after speaking publicly for the first time about the Indian captain’s classy act in telling Indian fans to stop booing the former Australian skipper.
India defeated Australia earlier in this World Cup and while Smith was fielding on the boundary, a boisterous pocket of supporters heckled the 30-year-old. But Kohli, who was batting at the time, got their attention and told them to cut it out, instead indicating they should be clapping the Aussie star.
Smith said the rough treatment from the crowd doesn’t affect him but was grateful for Kohli’s intervention.
“Yeah look it was a lovely gesture,” Smith said. “It doesn’t really bother me what the crowd do to be perfectly honest, I’m just sort of blocking it all out but it was a lovely gesture from Virat, that’s for sure.”
Not that long ago Smith and Kohli were arch-enemies in charge of teams whose relationship had deteriorated beyond repair. After a spiteful Border-Gavaskar series on the subcontinent in 2017, which India won 2-1, Kohli said he was no longer friends with the Australian players and never would be after taking offence to some of their words and actions on the field.
Before the series the Indian captain said he was on good terms with a number of the Aussie squad but four Tests later that had all changed, and Smith felt compelled to apologise for his emotions and actions “faltering” during the tour.
But seeing what Smith and Warner have endured since the ball tampering incident in Cape Town last year has meant Kohli wants to see them welcomed back into the cricket community with open arms, not insults.
“We’ve had issues in the past. We’ve had a few arguments on the field. But you don’t want to see a guy feeling that heat every time he goes out to play,” Kohli told reporters after his crowd intervention. “What’s happened has happened. Everyone has known that. He’s come back. He’s worked hard. He’s playing well for his side now.
“So just because there’s so many Indian fans here, I just didn’t want them to set a bad example, to be honest, because he didn’t do anything to be booed in my opinion. He’s just playing cricket.”
SMITH ON WARNER DYNAMIC
Smith’s relationship with David Warner is rosy too.
In the wake of the cheating controversy there were media reports suggesting the pair’s relationship was in tatters because Smith felt betrayed by his former deputy.
Warner has previously laughed off suggestions the two don’t get along and now Smith has maintained there’s no tension in the ranks.
Asked about the dynamic between him and Warner, Smith gave a short answer saying everything was rosy.
“We’re getting on well. Working hard together and doing what we can for the team so everything’s good,” he said.
Warner is forbidden from ever holding a leadership position in Australian cricket while Smith can’t captain again for at least 12 months since his ban expired in March, but that isn’t something he’s concerned with right now.
“I’m honestly not thinking about it (captaining again) at the moment,” Smith said. “It’s just about playing well in this World Cup.
“I think Finchy (Aaron Finch) is doing a fantastic job and I am helping him out as much as I can in certain aspects. He’s doing a magnificent job. He’s batting brilliantly and he’s doing a magnificent job.”