Cricket

Aus vs SA, 2022-23 – South Africa devise their plans to combat Steven Smith


South Africa have identified making Steven Smith play at the ball early as the key to keeping Australia’s most prolific batsman quiet in their three-Test series this summer.

They are one of the few countries in the world who can claim to have found an answer for Smith through his career ahead of Saturday’s first Test at the Gabba.

Smith has made changes in his technique since he last faced South Africa, but bowling coach Charl Langeveldt said his team had a clear plan for the right-hander.

“The key to most of the top six is the first 20 balls and to make them play,” he said. “Steve has changed. He is not on the move anymore and he has got a good base now where he is not moving around the crease as much.

“I think it is going to be a good challenge for our boys. The boys are up for the challenge but the key is going to be that first 20 balls where we need to really make him play more.”

The fuller approach to Smith marks a change to how teams have attacked him in recent years with shorter-pitched bowling aimed at his body. That had prompted Smith to alter his technique in a way that would allow him to duck the ball easier and open up the range of his pull shot on the leg side.

South Africa made a point to bowl full in their tour match against a Cricket Australia XI in recent days, with opening bowlers Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi picking up seven wickets between them.

Most of their wickets came caught behind or in the slips with fuller balls, in a similar plan to the one they want to execute on Smith.

“The guys got the fuller lengths that we want. Conditions are different in Brisbane to anywhere else in the world really,” Langeveldt said.

Smith is well aware of his history against the South Africa, raising it in a press conference on Sunday. But he has stated already this summer that he is back feeling at his best, with unbeaten scores of 200 and 20 in Perth against the West Indies less than a fortnight ago.

“I feel in a good place, I feel like I am batting nicely,” Smith said. “I feel in good rhythm and I am looking forward to it.”



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