Australia A v England XI, Hobart, 1st day November 17, 2010

Smith keen to build on batting


On a day when most of Australia's Test batsmen failed around the country, Steven Smith's 59 was a rare highlight. The first Ashes Test at the Gabba is eight days away but Smith does not expect his performance, which came in difficult seaming conditions against a quality England attack, to propel him into the top six.

"The selectors have a fair indication of what they're going to go with in Brisbane," Smith said, on a day when Michael Hussey, Marcus North, Ricky Ponting, Shane Watson and Simon Katich all made low scores. "Some people fail on wickets if they're green around the country. I guess you can't really take too much out of what's going to happen this week."

Even so, Smith's innings will impress the selectors, as it began watchfully after England reduced Australia A to 5 for 66, and became gradually more attacking as Smith became used to the conditions. But there remains doubt over what role Smith is best suited to at the Test level; he played as the main spinner against Pakistan this year when Nathan Hauritz was injured, but is also an impressive striker of the ball.

"Down the track I'd definitely like to be a middle-order batsman," he said. "I work just as hard on my batting as I do on my bowling. Down the track I would like to be a genuine allrounder; whether the selectors see it that way at the moment or not, I'm not sure."

Smith was helped by England's short-pitched attack, which suited his swatting style of pulls and hooks. Steve O'Keefe also handled the bowling well in making 66, but the rest of the batsmen struggled.

England's bowlers, led by Chris Tremlett with 4 for 54, mixed controlled aggression with good, fuller balls that facilitated swing and seam. It's a plan that the Test team should expect from James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Steven Finn, who are already in Brisbane adjusting to the conditions.

"When you come out to Australia and you play on these wickets, you hope that your attributes will play a part," Tremlett said. "At 6 feet 8 myself and the other guys are pretty tall as well, definitely that is the plan, to intimidate guys and get in their faces a little bit.

"Everyone put their hand up. Everyone got a couple of wickets, apart from Monty. But even though he didn't get a wicket, he put the pressure on and bowled really well. I think as a group, it was a very good bowling performance."

It was Tremlett's first match for England in two years, and although he began nervously with a wayward first over, he quickly found his radar and picked up the first wicket in his next over. He said there had been a major change in the squad's attitude since he last played, which could augur well as they aimed to retain the Ashes.

"I haven't been involved for a couple of years, and I have come in and noticed a difference in confidence within the side," Tremlett said. "I guess that comes from winning a lot of series and a lot of games back to back. Hopefully we'll take that on to Brisbane and go from there."

Tremlett also insisted he had not given up on hopes that he might be part of the team for the first Test at Brisbane. "It is maybe not set in stone, the first-Test squad. All you can do is when you get your opportunity, try your hardest - and you never know; you might have put your name in the hat. Getting some wickets builds your confidence - and if my opportunity does come along, my confidence will be high."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Andrew on November 19, 2010, 22:16 GMT

    @longdonkey - agreed - however I think he has much more left in his bowling to improve. O'Keefe really looked the goods.

  • Andrew on November 18, 2010, 7:04 GMT

    @Baiju Joseph - so you are saying you haven't met an arrogant Saffer, Pom or Kiwi? Also do you really think Harbajan is a good role model for gentlemanly behaviour? @phoenixsteve - just wait & see, I think Punter is saving is run scoring feast for the Poms. I'm backing 3 centuries from him this series, & Pup is looking good to inflict a bit of pain too. Question is - are the Poms frontrunners (meaning how will they go here with the expectation of winning)??? @landl47 - the low scores just mean the big scores are coming sooner then you think, & I think there will be some big Oz scores (by the batsmen anyway) -between the 25th Nov & 29th. By the 29th I'll be expecting comments like - we'll do better in the 2nd Test!!!

  • David on November 18, 2010, 6:33 GMT

    I think we've just seen why Smith can't play Test cricket and shouldn't be considered as a bowler but as a possible Number 6 bat but he's a way off of being good enough at this stage. As a bowler O'Keefe has shown much more but is still raw.

  • Steve on November 18, 2010, 5:47 GMT

    @disappointed.... get reaady to live up to the name! Unless Australia are deliberately trying to be AwFUL this ashes could be boring for it's onesidedness.... Can't believe that the AUSSIES CAN BE SO POOR....BUT until the actual Ashes (which we hold BTW) I'll keep my powder dry! COME ON ENGLAND! (Maybe we should let them take the Leg irons off now? ;~)

  • Chris on November 18, 2010, 2:34 GMT

    Hello? What about Steve O'Keefe? He played better and made more runs. Why's every article about the first day talk about Smith as the only shining light?! I', more excited about O'Keefe as a Test prospect than Smith. O'Keefe has better batting and bowling averages than Smith. Drop North and bring in O'Keefe.

  • Ant on November 18, 2010, 1:51 GMT

    no one mentioned that Strauss failed too yday ;)

  • Ryan on November 18, 2010, 1:46 GMT

    @Raghav Chivukula remember what happened when Cameron White did the spin duties? I think you should rethink that statement.

  • Oscar on November 18, 2010, 0:23 GMT

    I've seen this all before. ENGLAND, you've always talked more than you have performed and the 2 Ashes victories at home not only close but on both occasions you had favorable "luck" on your side. Man for man, if the Australian selectors don't do anything dumber than have been for the past 18 months Australia is comfortably the better team. The ENglish have had the benefit of weak sides and favorable bowling conditions in this match, it's raining on the second day, lets see the score line of the English first innings if any play happens.

  • Kell on November 18, 2010, 0:21 GMT

    @Raghav. Spot on. Pick Smith as a bat and let him ease into bowling. He is a way better bat at the moment and could more than hold his spot against North or Hussey.

  • John on November 17, 2010, 23:22 GMT

    @phoenixsteve- I know where you are coming from. I'm in Illinois and can't get the TV broadcasts. However, there are websites that stream the broadcasts over the internet and you can get the live match for free. I don't think I'll be able to put a link here because cricinfo likely won't accept it. Nevertheless, I can assure you that it's available and I've even been watching the Australia A v. England game. Cricinfo is a great site, but it's not like having cricket video. I hope you can work out how to find the stream.

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