Steve Smith of Australia looks on during day two of the ICC World Test Championship Final between Australia and India 1920x1080
World Test Championship

Steve Smith backs Australia attack to bring down Bazball

Australia news

By Martin Pegan

Hit For Six!

Steve Smith is confident the Australia bowling attack will thrive when it takes on an England outfit rejuvenated by their attacking brand of cricket known as ‘Bazball’.

England will enter the Ashes series boosted by 11 victories in their past 13 Tests since captain Ben Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum introduced a fearless approach to batting and the red-ball format with stunning results.

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Rapid run rates and thrilling tactics have led to success against New Zealand, India, South Africa, Pakistan and Ireland, but this renewed England are yet to face the team that topped the ICC World Test Championship standings and are well-placed to win the Final - Australia.

That challenge is set to come in five Ashes Tests beginning in Edgbaston on June 16, but Australia batter Steve Smith has backed their formidable pace attack to put the brakes on Bazball and dismantle the England line-up.

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"I said it initially when Bazball started that I'm intrigued to see how it goes against our bowlers. I've said that all along," Smith said.

"They've obviously done well against some other attacks, but they haven't come up against us yet. So, we'll see.

“It's obviously been exciting to watch. I must say I've enjoyed watching the way they've played and the way that I guess they've turned things around in the last 12 months or so.

“We'll wait and see how it comes off against us.”

The Australia attack is blessed with options as captain Pat Cummins and left-armer Mitchell Starc roll on as regulars, while injuries to the otherwise reliable Josh Hazlewood have opened the door for other quicks.

Late bloomer Scott Boland has made the most of his opportunities with 28 wickets in seven Tests at an average of 13.42 even before his superb spell on day 2 of the WTC Final against India.

Bowling all-rounder Michael Neser was a late addition to the WTC squad in place of Hazlewood and also looms as a likely prospect especially in England conditions.

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“I'm not a selector, but I know from having faced Scotty (Boland) in the nets recently, he's bowling very nicely,” Smith said.

“The angles he provides, his ability to hit the stumps from slightly shorter than some of our other bowlers, is a big plus. That’s something that I think Neser can do as well.

“(Boland) has turned up every time he's had an opportunity. So whether he's leaving any of the big three out, I don't know the answer to that.

“But he's certainly a quality prospect, as we've seen for a couple of years now every time he's had his opportunity.”

Cummins (1/36), Starc (1/52) and Boland (1/29) each struck on day 2 of the WTC Final, along with all-rounder Cameron Green (1/22) and spinner Nathan Lyon (1/4).

Smith revealed how the Australia attack intends to press home their advantage against India on day 3, in an insight into what England might also expect in the Ashes.

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“It's just putting the ball in the right area more often than not,” Smith said. 

“Owning that sort of, I think it's probably five-and-a-half to seven metre length. Top of the stumps, there's enough natural variation there in terms of up and down. 

“If you're hitting those areas consistently it's quite challenging.”


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