Smith aiming to open up England 'scars'

Steven Smith wants to reopen England’s Ashes scars (1:18)

In this Ashes, Australia’s captain wants the members of England’s squad to get flashbacks of the 2013-14 series in which his side ruthlessly dominated them throughout (1:18)

Australia’s captain Steven Smith has declared he wants to re-open English scars from the 2013-14 Ashes, placing a premium on a telling blow in the first Test of the summer at the Gabba as the key to a successful pursuit of the urn.

Smith has not forgotten the shattering effect of the 2013 Brisbane Test on the remainder of that Ashes series, where England were physically and psychologically battered by the hostile pace of Mitchell Johnson, the discipline of Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle and the resilience of the hosts’ lower order, led by Brad Haddin.

Speaking to ESPNcricinfo ahead of the series, Smith said that he wanted the members of England’s squad who lived through the 2013-14 tour – captain Joe Root, Alastair Cook, Jonny Bairstow, James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Steven Finn – to get flashbacks of that series and for the resultant negativity to flow through the visitors’ dressing room.

“First Test match is going to be really important, we need to set the tone again and hopefully get them on a similar path to what we did in 2013,” Smith said. “A few players were out here for that tour, and hopefully we can get them thinking the same way, open a few of those scars up as such, get them thinking ‘oh not this again’ and that kind of thought process.

“I know Trevor [Bayliss, England’s coach] very well and he’ll ensure they’re very attacking and those kinds of things. We just need to stick to our guns and ensure we prepare really well and make sure we’re doing the basic stuff really well out in the middle.”

In terms of the Australia team’s recent progress, Smith acknowledged that he would need more productivity out of the middle order in order for his XI to be successful, having faced a surfeit of batting collapses in recent times. “We’ve had a lot of collapses in the last couple of years,” he said. “I think in our last 15 games we’ve had 14 collapses or something like that.

“We can’t afford to do that this summer and six and seven are a place where we’ll need some rebuilding if those sorts of things happen and it’s going to be a valuable spot if guys there are getting runs for us. It’ll make a big difference, so let’s hope that is the case.”

Having not scored an international century since his prolific tour of India in March, Smith also outlined the mental strain of that series, which left him trying to score his runs as quickly as possible as he feared he did not have the reserves to stay in the middle for extended periods of time. Nine months later, Smith said he was refreshed and hopeful that experience was a one-off.

In his new book The Journey, Smith has outlined his long-term goals as national captain, including the winning of the Ashes at home and away, success in a series in India and also lifting the World Cup in India in 2019. He is also eager to tilt at the inaugural World Test Championship from 2019 to 2021, noting that players needed to be open to change in order to find ways to make Test cricket as capable of a strong future as all other forms of the game.

“Whatever the next demand is, whether it’s four-day Tests or whatever, we have to just get on with it and ensure that we’re doing everything we can to keep Test cricket alive. Right now I think five-day Tests are still working and going really well, but you never know what the future holds. We just have to be willing to adapt and do whatever we need to do.”

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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