New Zealand’s Neil Wagner had used the strategy perfectly against Steve Smith, hence calling the follies in his near-perfect batting. The Aussie too called on the Indian attack to try the same in the impending Border-Gavaskar series next month. But Australia’s assistant coach, Andrew McDonald feels that it might not be the only effective plan against Smith.
“I don’t think it’s (facing short-pitched bowling) actually a weakness,” McDonald said on Sunday (November 22). “I think they’re taking a shot at that area to get him out early and then what you’ll see after that initial potential plan, they will go to a more standard plan to try and negate the runs.
“I think they’ve used it before and as I’ve said he’s done well before so I’m suggesting that plan hasn’t necessarily worked to its full effect. I know in the Test match he had that moment with Archer where it got him but in terms of coming back off that he was able to score runs. Even in one-day cricket he was able to score and in T20 cricket he’s been able to score runs with that plan being adopted by opponents. I don’t necessarily see it as a weakness but they can keep approaching that way if they want.”
The strategy was first seen during the Ashes series in 2019 last year when he incurred a fatal blow on his helmet off a delivery from Jofra Archer. He then returned with poor numbers by his standards, against New Zealand’s Wagner, on home soil.
However, McDonald pointed out the strategy had failed to work during the ODI series against India at the start of this year in his knocks of 98 and 131.
“They had a clear plan early on in the innings where they had a leg gully, a deep square, and a man deep in front of square and everyone up on the offside in the powerplay,” McDonald said.
“That’s a tactic that they’ve used before and as I said it’s probably to negate the runs that he scores and try and give themselves the best opportunity to potentially get him out in that area. But he was able to combat that in India last time. He got a magnificent 131 in the last ODI at Bangalore and he made a significant contribution at Rajkot. But he’s had that before and he’s worked his way through it and I see this series as being no different in the way that he approaches.”
The Test series begins from December 17 onwards at the Adelaide.