Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 19 August 2019

Steve Smith: 6 tactics England can use to dismiss Australia's run-machine

Australia go into the Lord's Test 1-0 up with Smith in top form

Like him or loathe him, there is no denying Steve Smith is a class act with bat in hand.

The former Australia captain guided his side to victory in the first Ashes Test of the summer at Edgbaston, scoring 144 in the first innings and 142 in the second.

This of course is nothing particularly new - Smith has been tormenting bowling attacks for years now and has a Test average of 62.

Ahead of the second Test, which starts at Lord's on Wednesday, here are six ways England could look to dismiss their nemesis and help claw their way back in the series:

1 - Bounce him out

His technique is far from conventional as he walks across his stumps with a backlift that makes it appear impossible for him to bring the bat down straight, but despite this Smith doesn't have an apparent weakness - hence he averages more than 60 with almost 6,500 runs.

England have recalled fast bowler Jofra Archer, and he should be used to provide Smith with some "chin music". His height and thus extra bounce provide a potent weapon with his speed around 90mph, so England should look to use it against Smith who had a relatively easy time against the slightly slower Stuart Broad, Chris Woakes and Ben Stokes in the first Test. A regular barrage of short balls with a man out on the hook could reel Smith in.

2 - Bowl wide of off-stump

Keep providing the bait and eventually you'll reel your fish in. Even the best players are tempted by the wide half-volley, although the best tend to stick them away to the boundary. Would Smith nick-off eventually? It's worth a try, especially if the ball is swinging.

3 - Keep him off strike

Not one to lose patience quickly, even Smith would be perturbed at being starved of the strike. England could immediately put a sweeper out on both sides and drop mid-on and mid-off back to give him a single. Potentially facing just one ball each over may not get him out quickly but it could muddle with his mindset and frustrate him.

4 - Set unconventional fields

He's an unconventional batsman, who requires some unconventional tactics from the opposition. England could try mixing their fields up with catchers in unusual places, such as a couple in his line of sight, or get the likes of Archer to bowl around the wicket and aim at his ribs with two leg gullys in place.

5 - Use left-arm spin

If it's a weakness, it is just a flicker of one. Smith has been dismissed by Sri Lanka's Rangana Herath five times in just six innings, and four times by India's Ravindra Jadeja in 12 innings. The selection of Jack Leach in place of Moeen Ali may just be the turning point in the series if he is able to tie Smith down and find a chink in his armour.

Another unconventional player to struggle against left-arm spin was England's Kevin Pietersen, who time and again found his feet and hands in the wrong place against the likes of Herath, but was able to create carnage against the quicks.

6 - Wait until he reaches 140

Okay, we're only joking here, but if all else fails, Smith does, on current form, appear to struggle once he gets past 140.

Updated: August 14, 2019 10:10 AM

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