The one question every Indian bowler will ask himself before the 1st Test match against Australia kicks off on 17th December will be - "How do I get Steve Smith out?"
Former Australian captain Ian Chappell believes that the battle against the Aussie batsman won with bowling acumen and by 'unsettling' the player.
Steve Smith, the ICC's number 1 ranked Test batsman, plays with an unorthodox but largely effective technique. He employs an awkward shuffle from the leg-stump to outside the off-stump before every delivery. This opens both sides of the field to him and allows him to counter both swing and seam.
Most fast bowlers pay for their greed by attacking his middle stump as Steve Smith uses his deft hand-movement to put the ball away in a nonchalant action. He is also an excellent player of spin, an eloquent puller and driver, leaving almost no weaknesses for bowlers to exploit.
Chappell tried to explain the antidote to Steve Smith's aggressive batting. Talking to PTI, he said:
"You have to unsettle him by changing plans. If you bowl short of length, then he will be rocking back (and hitting for fun) all day. Somehow, you have got to get him to play forward even at the cost of a few runs. But you will still have some chance of getting him out," he said.
Short bowling should be used judiciously against Steve Smith: Ian Chappell
Only one bowler appears to have found a way to get Steve Smith out consistently. This is New Zealand's Neil Wagner, who foxed him 4 times in the first four innings of the Trans-Tasman trophy in 2019. Wagner bowled incessant bouncers to force Steve Smith into playing a false shot.
There's a lot of chatter around India's Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami attempting to use the same trick against the Aussie batsman. However, Chappell disagreed with this method and said the surprise factor of a bouncer shouldn't be taken away. Citing the example of West Indies maestro and former opponent Andy Roberts, he said:
"I believe that short-pitched balls should be used judiciously. It should be a surprise weapon. What New Zealand did was a waste of energy. If you bowl a bouncer, make it count. Andy used to bowl different kinds of bouncers, and every time I faced him, I had to do something about it."
India will begin their defense of the Border-Gavaskar trophy with a day/night Test match in Adelaide on December 17th.