On the eve of the second Test against South Africa at Port Elizabeth, Australia skipper Steve Smith has dismissed suggestions that he has a shortcoming against left-arm spinners.
Smith is the only batsman in contemporary cricket to average over 60 in Test cricket. His batting average of 63.41 is second only to legendary Sir Donald Bradman in terms of batsmen with at least 20 Test innings. There is not much the opposition bowling attack has managed to do to restrain the prolific run-scoring of Australian captain.
However, Smith’s dismissal in both the innings of Durban Test last week added fuel to the notion that he has a weakness against slow left-arm bowling. While the Proteas left-arm orthodox spinner, Keshav Maharaj dismissed him in the first innings for 56, Smith became the victim of part-time spinner Dean Elgar in the second innings for 38.
It is worth mentioning here that Smith had lost his wicket to a slow left-arm bowler 14 times in 41 Test innings since the start of 2016. In fact, according to an analysis by CricViz, the Aussie skipper has managed an average of just 21.92 against all slow-left armers since 1 January 2016.
"I think I usually go OK, outside of Rangana Herath and (India's Ravindra) Jadeja," Smith said according to cricket.com.au ahead of the second Test against South Africa, scheduled to start on Friday (March 9).
"Those guys have probably got me the most. I’m comfortable (with) how I’m playing spin at the moment.
"I feel like I’m a good player of spin and it doesn’t give me too many worries. Somebody has to get you out, I guess it's just been occasions the left-arm spinners have got me out more often than anyone else," he added.
Smith has confidence in the plans Australia have put in place to tackle Maharaj going ahead in the Test series. However, he admitted that he was a bit lazy while playing the left-armer spinners in Durban.
"We wanted to keep him on for a bit longer as we felt he was probably the easiest to play and with the ball reversing as much as it was," Smith asserted.
"I guess when you’re playing outside of the subcontinent, playing spin is a lot easier than anywhere else in the world and maybe you can relax a little bit and perhaps not get that big stride in that you need to get in India or think the ball isn’t going to spin as much and get a bit lazy.
"So perhaps I got a little bit lazy at times and didn’t have the same concentration levels that I had in India at the start of last year. And if I have that concentration then hopefully I don’t get out to him," he concluded.
As far as the outcome of Durban Test is concerned – Australia won the Durban Test by 118 runs and consequently took a 1-0 lead in the four-match Test series. Left-arm pacer Mitchell Starc was adjudged ‘Player of the Match’ for his 9-wicket haul in the match.