Pakistan v Australia, 1st Test, Lord's July 12, 2010

Ponting warns Smith of hard work ahead


Steven Smith is on the verge of becoming Australia's newest Test spinner but his captain Ricky Ponting believes Smith's bowling still has plenty of room for improvement after a disappointing tour match in Derby. Although Ponting is confident Smith can put in a strong performance at Lord's, he had some concerns after the legspinner was handled with ease by Derbyshire's batsmen last week.

Smith collected 1 for 87 from 24 overs and his only wicket came late in the innings, after he struggled to find the right line and length for much of Friday. Pakistan have given Australian spinners plenty of wickets in recent years - Shane Warne, Stuart MacGill and Nathan Hauritz all have lower averages against Pakistan than overall - but it will be a big challenge for Smith to replicate those results.

"Smithy has got a bit of work to do with his bowling yet," Ponting said on Sunday. "He probably didn't get out of the [Derby] game what he wanted the other day. He was a little bit off the mark there but you can understand that with a young guy playing his first game for Australia, a bit nervous and wanting to impress and wanting to do everything right.

"We've worked a bit with him today on that, mainly on just the line that he bowled. I thought he bowled a little bit too straight to the right-handers down at Derby and got picked off through the leg-side a bit too much, so we've worked on that today [and on] a few other little things that will hopefully help him out."

Although Smith will be chosen primarily as a bowler, he will offer some serious batting depth at No. 8 and should provide a spark in the field. Ponting doesn't believe Smith will be overawed by the occasion of becoming Australia's 415th Test player - Tim Paine will be regarded as the 414th - despite his below-par bowling in the warm-up game.

"He's a great kid to have around," Ponting said. "He's very aggressive and you can see in the way he bats that's pretty much the attitude he has with all of his cricket. If he does get that opportunity to play I think he'll acquit himself nicely."

Shane Warne is another who believes there is much room for improvement in Smith. Warne would have preferred Smith to gain greater first-class experience before making his Test debut, but he is confident that Smith has all the deliveries a legspinner needs.

"I think he has all the toys," Warne told the Courier-Mail. "But he is pretty raw and is a work in progress is nowhere near the finished product. He will almost certainly have some good days and some bad days. He will have to learn his craft on the run, while playing Test cricket. That is pretty difficult to do. But as long as he is patient with developing slowly I am okay with that. "

Regardless of how Smith is handled by Pakistan, Ponting expects to draw on his part-time spinners for plenty of overs during the two Tests. It's rare to see Simon Katich send down many deliveries in the nets but at Lord's on Sunday he was given a long stint with the ball, and had his New South Wales team-mate Usman Khawaja noticeably perplexed.

Katich's left-arm wrist-spin has been used sparingly in recent years, but he has a knack of collecting wickets and since the start of 2009 has taken eight at an average of 17.25, having been called on in only six Tests. Given Pakistan's poor record against Australian spinners over the past couple of decades, Katich could be a useful weapon.

"The only reason he hasn't bowled much in the last couple of years is he's had a bad shoulder ," Ponting said. "But since he's been here in England he's actually bowled a bit more than normal and his shoulder feels good, so whenever he's feeling good we'll try to get what overs out of him that we can.

"I think him and [Marcus] North will both bowl quite a bit in the series, just for the sheer fact we've got a lot of guys coming back from [injury]. Mitch has come back from a pretty long lay-off and Hilfenhaus from injury, so we'd better look after the quicks and be mindful of how much they are doing through the series."

Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Charles on July 13, 2010, 12:42 GMT

    Paullie overlooks the fact that Australia are playing four quicks anyway, if Watson is counted as a quick (and a handy one, averaging under 30 with the ball in recent tests). By playing both allrounders Watson and Smith, Australia get four seamers, Smith as a spinner (plus the part-time spin of Katich, Clarke and North), as well as seven legitimate specialist batsmen not including Payne. And even if Smith does not take wickets he may well justify his place through his batting alone. As a spinner he is no Shane Warne but he does show a lot of potential and is improving fast.

  • Dummy4 on July 13, 2010, 9:15 GMT

    i think apart from shane warne pakistan has always played spinners well , i think reason oz spinners generally perform well against pak are coz after pace blitz pak batsmen try to score against spin and get picked easily, but smith n hauritz are no quality , i wud be surprised if smith can make any impact

  • Dummy4 on July 13, 2010, 8:10 GMT

    Pakistan have played him too easily in all the 3 matches he has played against them, The T/20 World Cup Semi Final and the 2 T/20s! He might be a useful allrounder, but for me he is not even a good leg spinner! But you never know what Pakistan will do against him! Remember Hauritz in the recently concluded series in Australia? He is the most easiest off spinner around and still got 5 wickets in one of the match against Pakistan! He actually didnt take wickets, Pakistan gave away their wickets to him. But under Afridi, the guys are looking more united and they are growing in confidence day by day. Plus I dont really think that Pakistani batting line up is too weak, Yes they have some new comers, yes most of the averages are under 40 but for me they are still good enough, Imran Farhat has learnt alot and is batting much better, Salman Butt is an established batsman, then we have some experience in Shoaib Malik and then we have the Akmal brothers and Afridi! so the game is on guys!

  • VaRUN on July 13, 2010, 7:33 GMT

    Mohd Aamer will not let Ponting score more than 30 runs both innings combined.

  • David on July 13, 2010, 5:29 GMT

    I expect smith to do more with the bat then ball in these comming tests but hopefully he can just bowl economically, i don't see him being smashed around too badly but i kinda though o'keefe looked more together with his bowling then smith. I'm keen to see katich bowl some more overs though, he usually troubles the batsmen quite abit.

  • Sam on July 13, 2010, 3:11 GMT

    Australia will win this Test by an innings.

    Don't worry about Smith, he'll be fine. The Aussie quicks will rip through the weak Pakistani batting line up twice. I'll be surprised if Pakistan top 250 in either innings and even more surprised if Afridi goes past 20.

  • Paul on July 13, 2010, 2:29 GMT

    He's 1000/1 against playing, I'm afraid, unless the selectors have drastically changed their philosophy since the last Ashes series. If there's any excuse to play four quicks, they will - and there are three excellent excuses. 1 It gives them an opportunity to play Hilfenhaus in England where he bowled so well last year. 2 North and Katich can provide what the selectors have historically considered a token spin presence. 3 Smith bowls pies.

  • Jawwad on July 13, 2010, 1:20 GMT

    upsrockstar - 277 is what Pakistan is going to score in the whole match.

  • Behjat on July 12, 2010, 22:00 GMT

    I wish him a ton of luck and look forward to good performances from. For the upcoming tests, against Pakistan though, I hope he goes wicketless and gets smacked around!!!

  • Lou on July 12, 2010, 21:40 GMT

    It's amazing how people like coming on here to write spiteful things about very young players. It's not his fault the media write over-the-top things about him. He isn't the Aussies' first choice spin bowler and I don't think that really big things are expected of him yet. Not with the ball.

    Most Aus fans should have learnt their lessons about expecting big things from our spin bowlers.

  • No featured comments at the moment.