Australian batter Steve Smith with the Sussex shirt ahead of his County stint. Image Credit: Source: Sussex County Twitter

London: Australia batter Steve Smith has laughed off criticism in England about his county cricket warm-up for the Ashes after some fans and media took exception to his Sussex signing.

Australian cricketers have long warmed up for Ashes tours in England in the County Championship but some local pundits fear Smith’s stint at Sussex will only give the visitors a helping hand as they seek to retain the urn.

Asked if he was amused by the reaction, Smith told Cricket Australia’s website: “A little bit. I’ve played a lot of cricket in England, it’s not like it’s foreign territory for me.”

Incredulous reaction

Smith dominated the last England tour like no other, amassing 774 runs in his four Tests in the 2019 series to ensure Australia kept the urn.

Australia won the last Ashes 4-0 on home soil, though England paceman Stuart Broad has said that the series was “void” due to the Covid-19 restrictions that were in place at the time, drawing an incredulous reaction in Smith’s home nation.

“We were all there and playing so it was a little bit odd, you know?” Smith told reporters at a Sussex press conference.

“He’s a nice guy and loves throwing out some good banter, so it’s all part of it.”

High on bucket list

The 2019 Ashes ended in a 2-2 draw, tempering Australia’s celebrations after they retained the urn. They have dominated at home but not won an Ashes series in England since claiming the 2001 edition 4-1.

“We haven’t been able to do it but we got close last time and were unable to get over the line,” said Smith.

“It’s certainly something that would be high up on my bucket list and everyone else in the team as well.”