Australia batting mainstay Steve Smith ready to take on South Africa challenge Steve Smith ready to take on South Africa in upcoming Test series

Steve Smith feels he is in the right place to take on the menacing South African pace attack

He may have been behind his batting partner and teammate Marnus Labuschagne in the ICC rankings for batsmen in Test cricket, but Steve Smith seems to be in fine form himself, having scored a double century against the West Indies recently at Perth. Even though he was not among runs in the second test at Adelaide, he is ready to take on the South Africa challenge which has been a pretty tough one for him personally in the past.

Keeping aside the Sandpapergate scandal of the 2018 tour of South Africa in which Steve Smith was the captain and went on to lose his leadership role and also served a one-year ban, the right-handed batsman has not enjoyed success as much as he has against other opponents in the test arena. Steve Smith’s test batting average against South Africa is just a little above 40, while his career average remains comfortably above 61.

However, for someone who had declared “I am back” before the start of the Australian summer, Steve Smith looks primed to launch a new attack on the South African fast bowlers, who will produce a different challenge altogether provided that they have all the skills and abilities to excel on the bowling friendly pitches and conditions Down Under.

Steve Smith told the media after the West Indies series,

“I’m really excited. South Africa is probably the one team, they’ve bowled pretty well to me in the past, my record is probably not quite as good against them as some of the others.

“Some of the bowlers I’ll come up against, I’ve come up against previously. I’m really looking forward to the series like everyone else. Hopefully, I can get into a nice groove.”

Talking about his batting, Steve Smith says he feels being in a good place and primed up well.

“I feel in a good place, batting nicely, in good rhythm and I’m looking forward to it. Had a hit against the red ball this morning in preparation, just changing from the pink, so the focus can now completely go to South Africa and I can’t wait.”

Steve Smith knows that the challenge thrown by the quicker South African bowlers will be different than what he faced against West Indies over the past few weeks.

“You play what’s in front of you. Sometimes when you are facing faster bowlers it can be easier to score and things like that than if you’re facing someone bowling 130kph and nibbling them around.

“That’s the key to any attack, having that kind of variety so you’re never getting into a rhythm as a batter. I think South Africa provide that; they have (Anrich) Nortje bowling 150kph, (Kagiso) Rabada 140-150, then a left-armer in (Marco) Jansen, and a good spinner in (Keshav) Maharaj. It will be a good challenge for our batters and hopefully, we can continue the way we’ve started the summer.”

The first test between South Africa and Australia will be played from Saturday, December 17 at Brisbane followed by the second test starting on Boxing Day at Melbourne. The third and final New Year’s Test will be played in Sydney from January 4.

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