England v Australia 2010

Smith dreams of following Warne's footsteps

Brydon Coverdale at Old Trafford

June 26, 2010

Comments: 11 | Text size: A | A

Steven Smith has been elevated to Australia's No. 1 spinner, Old Trafford, June 26, 2010
Steven Smith is in pole position to face Pakistan, but wants to keep focussed on the one-day series first © PA Photos
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Seventeen years ago, an Australian legspinner walked out for his first Test match on English soil and promptly delivered the ball of the century. Steven Smith was four when Shane Warne entered cricket folklore by ripping a legbreak the width of Mike Gatting, and next month Smith could become the first Australian legspinner to play a Test in England post-Warne.

Nathan Hauritz has flown home with a foot injury and unless he enjoys a miraculously quick recovery, Smith is in line to make his Test debut against Pakistan at Lord's. He has spent plenty of time around the Test squad, having been called in as cover in Perth and Melbourne last summer before touring with the team in New Zealand.

On Saturday, Smith sat in the pavilion at Old Trafford, the venue of Warne's most famous moment, and briefly pondered the possibility of winning a baggy-green. Although he was keen to focus on the more immediate challenges of Australia's stuttering one-day series, he said joining the elite ranks of Australia's Test cricketers would be a magic moment.

"It's a different standard," Smith said of Test cricket. "It's the highest level you can play at. At the moment, Pakistan are a good side, and if I get the opportunity to play in a couple of weeks it will be a dream come true to wear the baggy green. I'm not really thinking too far ahead, it's just about playing my best cricket at the moment and trying to win a couple of one-day games and get back in this series."

If a Test call-up does arrive, Smith should be in a positive frame of mind. He finished the domestic season with a seven-wicket Sheffield Shield haul for New South Wales, having also scored four hundreds in the tournament and finished sixth on the run tally.

Then came the New Zealand tour, which was followed by an impressive World Twenty20 campaign, in which he ousted Hauritz as Australia's preferred slow bowler and finished third on the wicket list behind Dirk Nannes and Charl Langeveldt. Throw in a solid combination of 41 with the bat and 1 for 40 with the ball on Thursday, in his second ODI, and Smith feels good about the state of his cricket.

"Everything is coming together pretty well," he said. "I learnt a lot about myself as a player in the Twenty20 World Cup in the West Indies. It was a big learning curve for me and coming back and playing one-day cricket, it's always been a dream of mine to play for Australia."

It's hard to predict what he will show in Test cricket, if given the opportunity. As a precocious, confident Australian legspinner, the Warne comparisons are inevitable, but Smith is a vastly different player.

He might not have the ripping legbreak or perfect flipper, but could Warne bat in the top six at Test level? Could Warne hare around the boundary rope and take one-handed screamers time after time? Smith had some tuition from Warne during the Australian season, but doesn't expect his bowling to leave quite the same mark as Warne did on his first trip to England.

"He hasn't taught me that one yet," Smith joked of Warne's Gatting delivery. "Hopefully it will come in at some point. Warney was probably the reason I started bowling legspin when I was about 14. I've had a few sessions with him and he's been great for me."

Judging by Smith's form over the past six months, he's right about Warne's influence. Now to start making his own mark.

Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by   on (June 30, 2010, 12:36 GMT)

this kid is definitely getting better with each match..maybe not as much wit the ball as wit the bat but he deserves to b in that 1st 11.jus gien time i guess we could have a 'slightly warne'-s.waugh combo in the making...watch this space.

Posted by Winsome on (June 28, 2010, 16:47 GMT)

cric78, it happens with every young player who shows any sort of promise at all. It's not just the Aussies. That is why we have an endless stream of new McGraths and Gilchrists. But it is a great bore and puts a ridiculous weight of expectation on the youngsters.

It is the fault of the journalists and administrators who literally can't think of anything more interesting or truthful to push about young players with potential.

Posted by threeheadedmonkey on (June 28, 2010, 2:46 GMT)

Wasn't smith the equal 2nd highest wicket taker of the 20/20 world cup recently? Personally i saw him play in the NZ series earlier this year and thought he'd just end up a batsmen who bowls occasionally but he has been steadily improving his bowling and could be a surprise. Comparisons of warnie are abit much though, i'd settle for his good batting skills and being handy bowler. The aussie's need to be working on the youngsters in their squad alot when you look at the ages of their big players.

Posted by Fireballz on (June 28, 2010, 1:26 GMT)

Far beit from me to join the chorus of negativity, but a first-class bowling average of 48 hardly warrants a test call-up, let alone comparisons to the great Warney. If he's a batsman then call him such, but just because he bowls leg spin and is a potential test prospect shouldn't mean he is equal to Shane Keith Warne.

Posted by   on (June 27, 2010, 10:26 GMT)

Honestly speakin, dunno y but i have alwayz njoyed watching this kid... i mean, u jst cant keep him out of the game... He is probly one of the best fielder,if nit the best, Australia have ever produced... and he alwayz chips in with takin wickets at crucial moments or scoring runs @ the end......... wishin him a bryt future...... though i hope they dnt turn him into a more of a batsman than a spinner jst lyk wat happened 2 Cameron White...

Posted by CricFan78 on (June 27, 2010, 6:33 GMT)

I must be missing something but what has Steve Smith done remotely to be written in same sentence as Warne. I love it how Aussies hype up their players , even Cameron White was dubbed as next Warne few years ago.

Posted by ygkd on (June 27, 2010, 4:21 GMT)

In our household, SPD Smith is known as Spud, to distinguish him from other Steve Smiths, one of whom (SB Smith) could actually bat. Spud reminds us of the old-fashioned toy - the Spud Gun. It was a small metal gun that fired bits of raw potato - a bit like SPD's bowling. As for his batting, has anyone seen him play any shot with any semblance of correct technique? This is Test cricket after all. Watto, Spud, Mitch, Perspiring Dave Warner and the X-box lad, Hauritz, are the future of Australian cricket? All are candidates for the Over-rated Ashes along with Ashley Giles, Saj Mahmood, any number of Saffer Poms and the veteran Mark Ramprakash. yawn..........

Posted by BillyCC on (June 26, 2010, 23:59 GMT)

Smith could potentially bat at number seven or eight for Australia either ahead of or behind Haddin. For his leg spin has to continually improve, the first step is to refine his problematic action which prevents him from getting rip. The second step is to improve the line and accuracy, this is crucial and has ended the careers of McGain and Krezja. This is because Ponting does not believe in attacking spinners if they can't also stop the flow of runs. For Smith to depose Hauritz, the economy rate must improve. Also, the presence of both North and Smith in the team puts less pressure on Watson, and strengthens the batting.

Posted by   on (June 26, 2010, 23:18 GMT)

interesting.....but these guys shud be careful not being carried away by dreaming too much about former legends......let me cite few examples of few players who impresses in their debuts and got themselves compared to legends and finally could not quite live up to those expectations

1) Irfan pathan when he made his debut in australia got the wicket of gilchrist with a gem of a delivery and few good hits with the bat...people started believing that he is another wasim akram and start labelling him as "India verion of wasim". Finally he is not even a permanent member of team and has been in and out. 2) ajit agarkars initial performance invited everyone to compare him with kapil dev and started calling him as match winning all rounnder..then what happened?.. he started becoming a match winner but not for the indian team always for the opponent team :) 3) same happened for ishant sharma who impressed initally....now he is not even considered perhaps i can list many more like this...

Posted by   on (June 26, 2010, 20:47 GMT)

interesting.....but these guys shud be careful not being carried away by dreaming too much about former legends......let me cite few examples of few players who impresses in their debuts and got themselves compared to legends and finally could not quite live up to those expectations

1) Irfan pathan when he made his debut in australia got the wicket of gilchrist with a gem of a delivery and few good hits with the bat...people started believing that he is another wasim akram and start labelling him as "India verion of wasim". Finally he is not even a permanent member of team and has been in and out. 2) ajit agarkars initial performance invited everyone to compare him with kapil dev and started calling him as match winning all rounnder..then what happened?.. he started becoming a match winner but not for the indian team always for the opponent team :) 3) same happened for ishant sharma who impressed initally....now he is not even considered perhaps i can list many more like this...

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Brydon CoverdaleClose
Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.
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