Ahead of the first Test against South Africa at Perth, Australian captain Steve Smith has played down the chances of himself getting directly involved in the battle of words between the two fiercely competitive sides. The 27-year old left sledging to those individuals who relish the prospect of getting into the opposition’s face whilst also refusing to counter Dale Steyn’s pre-series remarks.
During the press conference, the right-hander reiterated his faith in Australia’s batting lineup and refused to believe that the hosts have been too dependent on him to register formidable totals.
When asked about the possibility of an extravagant amount of sledges, Smith claimed, “For me, that's not my cup of tea. It's just about making sure my body language is right and looking like I'm on top of them. I guess that's what I'm after from the team and it's not necessarily about sledging or anything like that. It's about making sure that each individual can get the best out of themselves and have a presence about them.”
He added, “Everyone does it differently, for someone it might be about getting into a verbal contest with a bowler to get themselves going. It's about each individual knowing what gets them going and when they do that it's going to be best for the team as well.”
Veteran speedster Steyn had fired a warning shot towards Smith by announcing his intentions to ‘cut off the head of the snake’ and witness the rest of the Australian batting lineup wither away. However, the skipper chose to dead bat the South Africa pacer’s jibe in his own nonchalant manner.
The Sydney-born cricketer quipped, “We've got a lot of batters in our lineup that are capable of scoring big runs. They can think that way if they like. Hopefully, they get rid of me and just start to think the rest is going to happen. That'd be nice and hopefully, our guys can cash in but yeah, (it’s an) interesting theory.”
Following a tumultuous tour to Sri Lanka in which they were whitewashed 0-3, a return to familiar surroundings could go a long way in increasing the confidence of the Aussie batsmen. But, they might have to remain guarded against becoming too comfortable with the South Africans eager to clinch an unprecedented third successive series win on Australian soil.
The WACA curators have left an extra inch of grass on the pitch to avoid a repeat of last year’s clash involving the Kiwis which saw more than 1600 runs being scored in a tame draw. With the overhead conditions also appearing murky, Smith revealed that the more experienced Peter Siddle is set to play and Joe Mennie will have to wait for his Test debut.