You talk, Steven Smith bats

Steven Smith not batting (but not for long) Getty Images

"I think he's got a bit more spare time on his hands. He gets bored pretty easy. That is why he is training for hours on end. He doesn't like it when he is told he can't train for the day."

That was Aaron Finch, speaking with a smile on his face, on Steven Smith.

Not that long ago that Justin Langer was talking about how Smith shadow batted in the shower. Which seems a perfectly fine and normal thing for any cricketer to do. Langer more recently has been talking about how he doesn't want Smith and Warner to be booed when they play. Which is an extraordinary thing considering Justin Langer also likes to sledge his daughter when they play Uno.

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There was also Nathan Lyon talking about Smith's treatment in the warm-up match at Southampton: "They're ruthless over here. I've had two Ashes tours and a one-day series and haven't experienced anything else. They're ruthless and don't show much love. They haven't changed their lines in 12 months." The Telegraph's chief sports writer, Paul Hayward, wrote a column on the English crowd and Smith and Warner: "Somewhere in deepest England, Steve Smith and David Warner are steeling themselves to hear the same gags every minute of every day on a long summer tour."

Everyone has been talking about Smith, but Smith just bats.

A few years ago a team-mate of Smith's suggested privately that it's actually hard to talk to Smith about anything not cricket. Obsessed is probably an understatement. Many captains find the extra parts that come with the job - video analysis, strategy meetings, keeping on top of everyone's form and injuries - boring. For Smith it seemed like the perfect use of his time. Now Smith is only an occasional pariah, constant talking point and professional batsman.

"There is no question about his batting ability," Finch said. "So when you are great, you get the game quicker, things just happen quicker, so there is never any issue about how he'll bounce back." And as Finch noted, Smith has spent a season in the IPL against many of the best white-ball bowlers in the world, so he's been plenty prepared.

"I suppose, when you are the captain, there is a bit more stuff that occupies your time at various times," Finch added. "But he's been brilliant around the boys, he's been great for me, talking cricket, talking batting, things like that and lessons he's learnt from being captain and leading the team. I think he's been really important for me, and just general conversation."

Some players fill their time watching movies, others playing FIFA, Steven Smith does it training, talking and preparing.

Australia underwent a light training session on Friday. Most of the bowlers didn't turn up, neither did the recovering David Warner, nor Glenn Maxwell, nor Usman Khawaja. But Smith was one of the first in the nets. At first in the spin nets, having some trouble with the legspinner Australia have flown in, and later slogging to leg the left-arm wristspinner. Then he went into the throwdown nets and did some hitting there before moving across to the seam-bowling nets. He spent a long time in each.

Then when the other batsmen finished their session, he came back to bat alone for close to 40 minutes. First he was taking throwdowns from Ricky Ponting, whose arm seemed to go numb in the long session, before Sridharan Sriram, the team's spin consultant, had to pick up the slack.

During the entire net session he seemed to work on using his feet to spin, then some power hitting. Against the seam bowlers he was moving around the crease - even more than usual for him - to find new places to score. And against the throwdowns at one stage he was batting against the side of the cut strip outside leg stump, to work on - I mean, who knows, but he didn't get bowled even when the ball was flung to the stumps.

After the entire workout, where he'd batted as long as the other players combined, he was standing outside the nets, shadow batting on his own as the tired net bowlers and assistant coaches went for a well-earned drink.

This summer, there will always be someone talking about Steve Smith. And while that happens there will be Smith batting in the middle, the nets, his mind and the shower.