Matches (15)
BAN v NZ (1)
Marsh Cup (1)
ENG v IRE (1)
Asian Games (W) (2)
CPL 2023 (1)
County DIV1 (5)
County DIV2 (4)

Pujara prepares to play with, not against, Smith...for now

The Australian arrives this week for a three-match spell with Sussex ahead of the WTC final and Ashes

Andrew McGlashan
Andrew McGlashan
Steven Smith and Cheteshwar Pujara share a smile at the end of the recent Test series  •  Getty Images

Steven Smith and Cheteshwar Pujara share a smile at the end of the recent Test series  •  Getty Images

In March they were facing each other in Ahmedabad and next month they will do so again at The Oval, but for the next few weeks Cheteshwar Pujara and Steven Smith will be team-mates at Sussex.
Smith joins the county this week for his somewhat controversial pre-Ashes stint, which will see him play three County Championship matches in the build-up to the World Test Championship final against India and then the five-match series against England.
During the Test series in India earlier this year, Smith helped conjure the dismissal of Pujara at a vital time in Indore, both with his field settings as he captained in the absence of Pat Cummins, and then the remarkable catch at leg slip.
Now Pujara will be the captain as he leads Sussex and will form one of the more formidable No. 3 and 4 combinations county cricket could see with Smith, although the battle to come won't be far from the mind.
"We have spoken, but most of the time we have played against each other. It is never for the same team, so it will be exciting to have him in the same side," Pujara told Sussex Cricket after the recent match against Gloucestershire. "I will try and get his thoughts, try and know him a little better.
"We will be playing WTC final, so it will be mixed feelings. On the field we always have good battles, but off the field we are good friends."
While the signing of Smith has sparked a debate about whether the county game is being too accommodating to the Australians ahead of the Ashes, it has also been talked up as a great opportunity for Sussex's young players to work alongside a great of the game.
"He's a great influence to have in the team," Pujara, currently the leading run-scorer in Division Two, said. "Will be looking forward to having him in the dressing room and trying to have a chat with him, learn from him, see how he prepares because he has a lot of experience [and] the amount of runs he has scored in Test cricket.
"All of us are looking forward to having him here and sharing his experience. He has a lot of knowledge about the game so it will be nice to have his inputs."
Smith's three-match spell with Sussex is also set to bring him up against Marnus Labuschagne when they face Glamorgan.

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo