World Cup reality check for Steve Smith

It is not easy for a 21-year-old to be compared to two legends of the game but Australia's Steve Smith seems destined to carry the burden.

Updated: March 22, 2011 17:31 IST
  • Total Shares

New Delhi: It is not easy for a 21-year-old to be compared to two legends of the game but Australia's Steve Smith seems destined to carry the burden.

The baby-faced leg-spinning all-rounder was hailed as the next Shane Warne when he made his Test debut last year and even before he could come to terms with the early comparison, he was then labelled as the future Steve Waugh.

"I think he's definitely got captaincy potential," says Dave Gilbert, a former Australian Test bowler and chief of Cricket New South Wales.

"He won't be the next Warne, but in time he will be a very good leg-spin bowler. When he came into the NSW first XI, he reminded me of Steve Waugh."

"I played with Steve Waugh in his debut first-class game against Queensland in 1984. He had this belief in his ability and Steve Smith is the same."

"They are both quiet, they don't make waves and rock the boat, they do the job and their self-belief is what takes them a long way."

Once Smith was named in Australia's World Cup squad, the clamour around him increased, only to be silenced as the tournament progressed.

Smith struggled with the ball so much in the league matches that skipper Ricky Ponting did not give him a single over in their final group game against Pakistan.

The leggie picked just one wicket at the cost of 139 runs in the five innings leading up to the Pakistan game, which the three-time defending champions went on to lose by four wickets.

His form with the bat has been equally unimpressive, managing 53 runs from three stints out in the middle.

Ponting is likely to show little tolerance while picking his eleven for the high-profile quarter-final against India in Ahmedabad in Thursday, given Smith's current slump.

"I don't have to give him (Smith) a rocket," said the captain earlier this month.

"I had a really good chat to him before the World Cup started about how I see him to the team and how valuable his role is. He's worked hard.

"He had a quad strain that restricted him a bit the first couple of days here, but I don't need to talk to him. Steve knows what my expectations of him are."

Smith definitely must know what he needs to do to get back into the good books of his skipper, who made news for an on-field strop after colliding with his younger team-mate during the game against Canada.

Ponting screamed for a catch off Harvir Baidwan, but after successfully pouching the opportunity he angrily threw the ball to the ground in front of a stunned-looking Smith.

"It wasn't a great reaction I guess," said Ponting. "But it certainly wasn't designed to try to inspire the team or anything like that, or to make Steve look in any way in the wrong place or make him look silly."

Ponting could heed the advice of Gilbert.

"It took Richie Benaud time to find himself as a leg-spin bowler and with Steve we haven't even scratched the surface," Gilbert said.

"There will be times when his performances will frustrate us, but he's definitely a 10-year player for Australia."

For the latest Cricket news , Score, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and get the NDTV Cricket app for Android or iOS

  • Australia
  • Stephen Barry Smith
  • World Cup 2011
  • Cricket

Leave a comment