Dubai: Steve Smith genuinely believes that he can win every game against any attack in any conditions and has warned that the Australian genius constantly changes his game to stay ahead of his rivals in international cricket, said Australia’s assistant coach Sridharan Sriram.
Smith set the platform for Australia’s chase when a 90-minute rain break reduced the innings to 44 overs with the visitors requiring 282 under DLS against Sri Lanka in the first One Day International at Pallekele on Tuesday.
When rain halted play, the visitors were 73 for two with Smith and Marnus Labuschagne at the crease.
After play resumed, Labuschagne fell for 24. Marcus Stoinis scored 44 off 31 balls. Smith made 53 before he was clean bowled by Dunith Wellalage.
Alex Carey scored a quick 21 off 22 balls and Pat Cummins, playing his first ODI after 18 months with an injury, fell for a duck. Glenn Maxwell smashed six fours and six sixes to score 80 not out off 51 balls after the visitors stuttered against spinner Wanindu Hasaranga, who bagged four wickets.
Amazing self belief
“I have not seen that kind of self-belief in a person, in the way he talks and in the way he takes on any attack and in any conditions. It’s unbelievable,” said the former Indian all-rounder and Royal Challengers Bangalore spin coach in an exclusive chat with Gulf News.
“Having seen both Smith and Virat Kohli, their work ethic is amazing, it is unparalleled.”
Sriram also said how Smith constantly changed his game to counter the strategies adopted by his opponents. “He knows his game inside out. He’s a genius. He can change his grip in the middle of an innings, he can change his stance, he can change the shuffle, he can be more side on and suddenly be more open. He is someone who can change his game on the go. That is a genius because not many people could do it. People require so much practice to change one aspect of the game,” Sriram said while in awe of the immense talent that Smith possesses.
Smith, who has a predominant shuffle back and across, started the trigger movement in the middle of an innings. Sriram narrates the incident…
“He tells us the story that his shuffle started when England pacers started bowling bouncers at him. He struggled initially, and then all of a sudden he started to shuffle and got a couple of hook shots and helped him get his first Test hundred. And then onwards, the shuffle stayed. So the shuffle happened in the middle of an innings.
“Even in India, when the ball was reversing, he got three hundreds on the turning tracks. When Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav were reversing the ball, he changed the trigger movement. He suddenly became very open and was hitting through the off side. So he’s someone who can change his trigger and stance during the middle of an innings, that’s something Sachin [Tendulkar] used to do. But I think very few people have that ability. They’re geniuses. And that is the genius of Steve.”
The assistant coach is also proud of the depth of spinners in Australian team, which can augment the famed pace attack and play a big role on the dry sub-continent pitches. The former Indian spinner heaped praise on off-spinner Nathan Lyon, whom he feels is good enough to play on all formats.
“Lyon came into Test cricket because of the T20 format. He’s an exceptionally good bowler who can play all formats. The make of the side does not allow him to be a part of the squad always. We have [Adam] Zampa, who was very successful and we needed to play three fast bowlers, which is always Australia strength. Somebody like Ashton Agar is not able to fit into side. I can really be proud of the depth of spin that Australia have got in the last few years,” he said with a broad smile.
Sriram, who also shared the dressing room with Australian whiteball captain Aaron Finch, Glenn Maxwell and Josh Hazlewood at the Royal Challengers Bangalore dressing room, feels the advent of franchise leagues have ensured that there are no secrets in international cricket.
“Players share so many dressing rooms, Butler shares his with Sanju Samson, Cummins with Andrew Russell. So there are no secrets in international cricket anymore and it is almost become universal, the way they decode, the way they prepare for the game. And what it has also created is a good camaraderie between the players from different countries so the animosity or the distance is not there when they play against each other,” Sriram concluded.