Former England captain Nasser Hussain reckons Steve Smith is still a puzzle to be solved, given his astonishing numbers in Test cricket. The 55-year-old believes that his century against India at the Kennington Oval in the World Test Championship (WTC) final showed nothing much had changed.
Smith, who has been a thorn in England’s way for several years now, scored a gritty hundred against India to set up a massive win. The 34-year-old averages 60.71 in English conditions and 59.69 against the Englishmen.
Speaking to the Daily Mail, Hussain observed that Smith finds a way regardless of the opposition’s plans against him.
“Nothing’s changed, as we saw in the first innings at the Oval against India. Just because he was leg before three times in county cricket doesn’t mean suddenly he’s a walking lbw. England — and all sides — have bowled one way then another at him and he just makes hundreds. It is still the puzzle everyone is trying to solve, that’s why his stats are phenomenal.”
The 96-Test veteran underlined the need to get David Warner cheaply, given he could take the game away quickly from England. For England, Hussain expects Jonny Bairstow to do well in the series.
“David Warner is very important for Australia. He can take games away from England but if they get him cheaply they might get Labuschagne and Smith in at 20 for two rather than 150 for two and that could be key. Bairstow is very important with both bat and gloves. His keeping will be under the microscope with Foakes left out.”
Bairstow returned in the one-off game against Ireland after nine months without action due to a leg injury. The Yorkshire cricketer did not bat against Ireland, but kept wickets for the English team.
“He has stuck to his word every step of the way” – Nasser Hussain on Ben Stokes refusing to play for draws
The former right-hander also felt Stokes wouldn’t play for draws and expects him to come up with more funky declarations in the Ashes.
“He has stuck to his word every step of the way after telling Ian Ward on Sky right at the start he wouldn’t play for draws and he did tell me I could hold him to it. Whether McCullum would be tapping him on the shoulder on that final day and saying ‘let’s just win the Ashes’ I don’t know.”
“But they have been consistent in saying making Test cricket entertaining is the bigger picture, so I do think Stokes would declare in those
Predicting the scoreline of the five-Test series, he explained:
“3-2 but I just don’t know which way it will go! I’ll go England but Australia won the World Test Championship final for a reason. They are a very good side. It could be a special series.”
England haven’t held the Ashes urn since 2015 and will be keen to break the drought.