The Investec Ashes 2013 July 30, 2013

Smith misses training with sore back


Steven Smith gave Australia an injury concern ahead of the Old Trafford Test, failing to train on Tuesday due to a sore back. Smith was Australia's only centurion from the tour match in Sussex, where he finished unbeaten on 102 in the first innings, and his efforts there meant he was unlikely to be in any real danger of losing his place for the third Investec Test in Manchester.

However, he will now have only one training session, on Wednesday, to prove his fitness ahead of the must-win Test, which begins on Thursday. Although Australia were confident that Smith would be fit, the unpredictable nature of back problems meant that it was too early to make a decision on his fitness.

"I think he's doing okay," opening batsman Chris Rogers said. "He might have tweaked it a little bit yesterday but talking to him he said he's improved a bit so hopefully he'll be right to train tomorrow and good to go on the first day. I think it's just a bit restrictive, so hopefully it's not a big issue."

The uncertainty around Smith added to the issues the selectors will face in the lead-up to the third Test, although if he were to miss out, it would give them an easy decision on how to squeeze David Warner back into the side. On Monday, Warner rejoined the squad for the first time since the Ashes began, after he was sent to Zimbabwe and South Africa to gain some match practice with Australia A.

His 193 against South Africa A in Pretoria in his final match of that tour built the pressure on the rest of the batsmen, although the coach Darren Lehmann said after the Sussex game that Warner was no certainty to be part of the XI in Manchester. Warner batted in the Old Trafford nets on Tuesday and would be the natural replacement if Smith were to miss out.

However, if Smith is fit to play and the selectors want the newly in-form Warner to slot in to the middle order, Phillip Hughes could be the man to miss out after scoring only two runs from his past three Test innings. Warner would be likely to bat in the middle order if recalled for his first Test of the tour, and Rogers said he was the kind of batsman who could make all the difference if things went his way.

"Davey brings a lot of energy to the group always," Rogers said. "He's just one of those guys. He goes a hundred miles an hour. It's fantastic to see him get runs. He's such a destructive player that if he bats for a while he could put some real pressure on England. If he plays hopefully he can do well and have one of those games out and help us win this next Test.

"He's one of those ones opposition know that they have to get out quickly. If he bats for a while he can take the game away like Gilchrist used to do. Hopefully he can do that if he does play."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Chris on July 31, 2013, 22:26 GMT

    I've said this before, but instead of complaining, Australia could nullify pitch doctoring by preparing the pitch in Darwin (Marrara) as a dust bowl designed to replicate Indian conditions and then play some first class matches there or possibly even introduce a NT shield team (with an Indian spinner like Harbhajan). Combined with the possible introduction of 5-day shield matches, this would for the first time give our batsmen a great chance to prove their techniques against spin in these conditions at a very high level - an opportunity they currently do not have. It's only when they get to India that they find themselves woefully underprepared with techniques that do not suit the conditions. Cricket Australia need to be leading the world and that involves being creative and being proactive and I think that if Australia ever want to win in India more regularly and address their weakness against spin, they need to do something about it.

  • Graham on July 31, 2013, 10:20 GMT

    samgannon22 ; And he showed every bit of that talent averaging 35 last shield season when all these batsman averaged that playing for Australia. Clearly with those statistics he is so much better than the current crop.

  • dave on July 31, 2013, 9:53 GMT

    Aust needs to rush Maddinson straight into the test team. Any idiot can see he has more talent than any of our current hacks bar Clarke. Wake up and smell the roses selectors!

  • d on July 31, 2013, 8:22 GMT

    anyone else worried that Warner will be trooping off after a 5 ball nought about 143 tomorrow?

  • Altaf on July 31, 2013, 7:28 GMT

    Cricinfo commenting section need to improve now seeing current trend. They might not include 'reply to comments' functionality to avoid dispute between the fans but can at-least allow agree/disagree buttons to make commenting more interesting and encouraging.

  • Graham on July 31, 2013, 7:12 GMT

    jmcilhinney; I wouldn't worry too much about people calling the pitches doctors some people are just looking for excuses. Australian batsman struggle on the selectively watered pitches of India where the bounce is inconsistent and theses pitches where the ball goes through the surface and explodes are a disgrace. The pitches in England have been dry, slow turn but consistent bounce - they have been batsman paradise but other than Root and Bell no batsman have taken advantage of them.

  • j on July 31, 2013, 6:36 GMT

    When the Aussies miss Smith with a bad back, you know things must be bad. Although we knew that already.

  • John on July 31, 2013, 6:31 GMT

    I see various people complaining about "doctored" pitches. These people have no idea about English weather. That Lords pitch had a reasonable amount of grass on it to start with but it was simply dry because there hasn't been enough rain, unlike in previous years where there was too much. If England were going to doctor pitches then don't you think they'd have played SA on turners too? It sounds like excuses for Australia's poor play against spin to me.

  • Wadood on July 31, 2013, 5:57 GMT

    Despite talent in Autralian batting they have serious problems of experience and concentration. For example, I noticed a real problem with Usman Khawaja. Every time he went on to bat in Test cricket he occupied the crease for more than an hour for each of his completed Test inning in 7 Tests. And yet despite occupying the crease for so long he failed to convert his minutes on the wicket into anything substantial.

  • Dummy4 on July 31, 2013, 5:34 GMT

    @Shaggy076, well said, I too have had enough of the Khawaja love brigade. Sure he looks okay against the quicks, but put a spinner on and he's a wicket waiting to happen. Hardly a wonder all his fans want him at no.3!

    For goodness sakes, bring back Warner, he is the one young bloke who can put BIG runs on the board.