Steven Smith has no complaints about his Ashes lead-up after helping NSW claim a 150-run Sheffield Shield win over Queensland in Brisbane.
The only spin bowling that interests Steven Smith these days is the one produced by England’s Graeme Swann.
But the Test No.5 batsman concedes his part-time leggies may be sighted again soon as an injury cloud hovers over allrounder Shane Watson ahead of the first Ashes Test in Brisbane.
Smith couldn’t complain about his Ashes build-up with the bat after notching 69 and 36 in NSW’s 150-run Sheffield Shield win over Queensland sealed at Allan Border Field on Saturday.
And after taking his Shield tally to 317 runs at 63.40 – third overall highest – even Bulls quick Ben Cutting conceded Smith was “in the form of his life” ahead of the Ashes opener.
“I have played as a specialist batsman for the last year now,” Smith said.
“It’s a choice I made to put my spin on the back foot for a little while and it’s paid off.
“I feel like I am heading in the right direction. My batting is the most important thing right now.”
Still, Smith is willing to make an exception for an Australian team sweating on Watson (hamstring) ahead of the Ashes.
“If I need to roll the arm over and help out that’s what I will do,” said Smith who made his 2010 Test debut as a leg-spinning allrounder.
But now someone else’s spin interests Smith more.
“They were pretty dry wickets in England. I am sure they won’t have the same assistance as they did over there (for Swann’s spin),” he said.
“It’s a good opportunity for us to try and get on top of someone like that (Swann).”
And the prospect of facing England’s tall timber of Stuart Broad, Chris Tremlett, Steve Finn and Boyd Rankin at a bouncy Gabba hardly fazed Smith.
“We expect some short pitched bowling. We know what’s coming, we are ready for it,” he said.
“The more he (Swann) bowls the more they give the quick bowlers a rest.
“If we attack him they have to bring the quicks back and that is going to be good for us – that’s our gameplan.”
Smith and NSW’s other Test batsmen David Warner and Brad Haddin all warmed up with the bat in the Shield game against Queensland.
Warner (52) and Smith (69) helped the Blues blast 386 in their first dig before Haddin belted a 46-ball unbeaten 50 and declared the second innings at 8-270, setting up the mammoth winning target of 435.
NSW’s Test spinner Nathan Lyon had match figures of 3-67.
A defiant Chris Hartley (78 not out) could not stop NSW bowling out Queensland for 284 in an extended morning session on Saturday to seal victory.
NSW’s former Test bowler Trent Copeland had match figures of 7-99.