Wednesday, 21 April 2021

Smith wants defence, Warner eyes attack in India Test

SYDNEY: The country’s on-field leaders hold opposing views over the strategy required for success with the bat in India, days before Australia’s Test squad start a pre-series training camp in Dubai. While captain Steve Smith believes defence will be the key for Australia to end their woes on the subcontinent, his deputy David Warner remains wedded to the notion aggression will serve him best. fter seeing England fold 4-0 despite scores above 400, Australia’s brains trust believe they will need totals beyond 500 to put pressure on Virat Kohli’s men. However, they will need to improve considerably to get to 400, let alone 500. In their past nine Tests in Asia, Australia have managed just one first-innings total above 400. For a 500-plus start, it’s another seven Tests back to the 2008 campaign, when Matthew Hayden, Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke and Michael Hussey were playing. Australia’s recent approach on the spin-friendly tracks of Asia has been to attack and get as many runs on the board before the inevitable unplayable delivery arrives. Smith has described this strategy as “rubbish”. “I think if your defence is good and you back that, then the one that’s got your name on it generally spins past the bat or does too much. So get that out of your mind, it’s not going to be said again – it’s going to be about backing your defence and making sure you can bat for long enough,” Smith said in an interview on the Cricket website. “Everyone in our team has got the shots, but get yourself in, things get easier, and then be willing to go big.”

Warner, who recently became just the fifth player to score a century before lunch on the first day, has other ideas, judging by his comments after claiming back-to-back Allan Border Medals this week. “I have to keep playing my way and our way as Australian cricketers. Boof [coach Darren Lehmann] is a massive fan of taking the game on and trying to win from every situation,” Warner said on Tuesday. Smith does not want to turn Warner into something he is not. but he has set the opener the goal of not just scoring centuries but making epic scores, like the unbeaten 303 India’s Karun Nair made last month. Of Warner’s 18 Test tons, only one has been converted to a double – likewise Smith, who has made 17 centuries. Warner’s method is very much “see ball, hit ball”, which puts the pressure back on the bowlers to get it right from the start. “Early on in your innings you’re not going to move your feet as much and they might not hit their lines and lengths straight away, so you have to make the most of that, especially my first six balls, I try and look to hit a boundary instead of trying to leave them, which traditionalists might argue that’s how you’re supposed to approach Test cricket,” Warner said. The tactic has served him well over his 60 Tests, though his record, like Australia’s, in Asia is modest. He averages 33 across 18 innings, with one hundred. Whichever game plan he adopts, Warner will at least arrive in India mentally and physically refreshed after being given the one-day international tour of New Zealand off. “It’s about being mentally fresh,” Warner said. “Most of the time we’ve gone over there we’ve had a lot of cricket leading into it. “I”m fortunate enough to have a break now, which is great. I’m really excited about this challenge in India. I’ve been there before, I know the conditions we’ll face. Over there it’s more mental than the game itself. “There’s no excuses. We had a torrid time in Sri Lanka, I’ve learnt a lot about myself, I know the other guys have as well.”

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