Star Australian batter Steve Smith has backed Michael Neser and Scott Boland to be at their best should any of them get the nod for the World Test Championship (WTC) final. The right-handed batter spoke highly of both pacers, stating it will be a challenge to face them both.
Neser made it into Australia's WTC squad as a cover for Josh Hazlewood, who failed to recover enough in time for the final. The right-arm seamer was amongst the runs and wickets for Glamorgan in County cricket. In two Tests so far, Neser has taken 11 scalps at 16.71.
Speaking at a presser on Monday, Steve Smith reflected that Neser bowled beautifully in the County matches and backed him to be effective even on a flatter wicket.
"I’ve got so much faith, he is a quality performer," ICC quoted Smith as saying. "I faced him against Glamorgan a couple of weeks ago and he bowled beautifully. He has got great skills and he’s added some of the inswingers we have seen him bowl when the wicket is a bit flatter. So he has got loads of skills and is batting nicely as well, so he is a great package. If he gets an opportunity he will certainly do a very good job.”
Scott Boland, on the other hand, made an instant impact in the 2021-22 Ashes series, blowing England away at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). The Victorian has picked up 28 scalps in seven Tests so far at 13.43.
While underlining Boland's strengths, Steve Smith conceded that Australia are wary of India's strengths across departments.
"I think we will get what Scotty does pretty well," Smith stated. "He hits a good length, hits the top of the stumps, seams the ball around, swings it if he wants to and he has got great skills as well. No doubt he will be a challenge if he gets the nod. They have got a good mix of quality seam bowlers, with Shami and Siraj probably their two main guys. They have really good skills and the Dukes ball will suit them."
With Hazlewood out, Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins look like fixed picks in the decider. It will be Australia's WTC final, but it will be India's second.
Australia's squad for WTC final
Pat Cummins (c), Scott Boland, Alex Carey (wk), Cameron Green, Marcus Harris, Michael Neser, Travis Head, Josh Inglis (wk), Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Todd Murphy, Steve Smith (vc), Mitchell Starc, and David Warner.
Standby players: Mitch Marsh and Matthew Renshaw.