Steven Smith contemplating non-Australian approach for Kandy Test
Steven Smith revealed that he might shy away the usual tradition of the Australian skippers to chose to bat on subcontinent pitches and is backing the recent trend of the Pallekele International Cricket Ground in Kandy, the venue for the first Test against Sri Lanka which begins on Tuesday, where skippers have opted to have a crack at the opposition batsmen if the coin spins their way.
Only three Australian captains have opted to bowl first in the past 86 Tests spanning six decades in the subcontinent, with the general perception that the pitches tend to deteriorate at a fast pace and become virtually unplayable by the fourth day. However, Smith is prepared to take a risk with his plan based on the belief that his faster bowlers can make early inroads before the batsmen put up such a huge total that they need to be bat only once in the match.
"(There is a) general trend of the last four Test matches played (at Pallekele)," Smith noted. "The first morning's been hard work for the batters and then the wicket's got better days two and three, and then started to play a few tricks later in the game.”
“It swung around a little bit in the nets (yesterday) and the wickets were probably pretty similar to how it would be on the first morning of a Test match,” Smith said ahead of Australia’s final light training run at the ground today.
“So it was a good challenge for our batters on our main training day, and the overhead (conditions) can make a bit of a difference. If you're able to bowl first and bowl well, it will be about us making sure we bat big in the first innings and ideally bat once. But we'll wait and see how it looks the morning of the Test.”
Supporting his vice-captain and opening batsmen David Warner's views that playing in the IPL has helped himself and many other Australian players to gauge the pitches in the subcontinent much better than before, Smith, who will be captaining Australia for the first time in the subcontinent, said that he was pretty certain how the pitches would behave and has formulated his plans accordingly.
"I don't think there's a huge difference (between Sri Lankan and Indian pitches)," he said. “I think just playing in these conditions you have to be more adaptable to play different tempos of the game. It's about making sure that for me, as captain, picking the right times to attack and the right times to be a little more defensive and just being really smart with that."
"Playing in Australia you can be attacking quite a lot of the time (when bowling), but in these conditions, you have to have that defensive sort of mindset at the same time - having a couple of guys out (in the deep) and building some pressure. Being nice and patient, and when the ball starts doing something, whether it's turning or reverse swinging or the new ball that swings, then you can start attacking,” he added.
Australia have already named their playing XI for the first Test with both Steven O’Keefe and Nathan Lyon included in the playing XI.