Manchester – Australia batsman Steve Smith admitted to being obsessive with his approach towards batting, but acknowledged the need for balance to avoid getting burned out. Smith has been in top form ever since his return to international cricket. In five innings at the ongoing ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019, Smith has struck three fifites on his way to 243 runs at an average of 48.60. But behind all that success is an unforgiving batting routine, as he swings his willow just about anywhere and anytime through the day – even in the hotel room at 7 am! Smith’s dedication to his craft was even the source of some mirth for coach Justin Langer, who had earlier joked that the former captain shadow-bats in the shower. “I don’t know how he’s spying on me in the shower!” Smith said with a chuckle on Monday, 17 June. “Yeah, I’m known to play a few shots here and there. “I always have a bat in my room, and Ricky was actually rooming about ten rooms up from me the other day and said, ‘Were you batting at seven o’clock this morning?’ He could hear me tapping on the ground. I said, ‘Yeah, I was, actually’.” While the grind has given him much success thus far in his international career, Smith hasn’t lost sight of the fact that too much of anything can be detrimental. “It’s one thing that’s, I guess, learned with experience, and I’m reasonably experienced now and I’ve learned a bit over the last couple of years to sometimes just take the foot off the pedal in the nets and save myself up a little bit,” he said.
For all of Smith’s brilliance in this World Cup, he has often been at the receiving end of some hostile reception from English crowds, who have repeatedly booed the batsman.
One such incident took place during Australia’s match against India, where Smith made a fifty in an unsuccessful chase of 353. But before that, while he was fielding by the boundary, Smith was jeered by a section of Indian fans, prompting Virat Kohli, the India captain, to dissuade them from booing Smith and signalling towards them to applaud him instead, and the gesture wasn’t lost on Smith. “It was a lovely gesture,” he said. “It doesn’t really bother me what the crowd do, to be perfectly honest. I’m just sort of blocking it all out, but it was a lovely gesture from Virat, that’s for sure.”
PHOTO: FILE …