Coach of the Australian cricket team, Justin Langer, is delighted to have Steve Smith, the former captain banned for one year after the ball-tampering scandal, back in the team. Australia played three unofficial 50-over games against New Zealand in preparation for the ICC 2019 World Cup and the coach is more than satisfied with what he saw from the right-hander in that series.
"I watched Steve Smith batting against New Zealand in those three practice games. He's truly a master of the game, so it's decent to have him back," the former Australian Test cricketer said. What really caught his attention was one particular stroke played by Smith when batting in one of his team's practice sessions. The stroke was so good that the Aussie team coach compared its execution to the batting of Indian legend Sachin Tendulkar.
"A week ago in Brisbane, Smith batted wonderfully, he played an unfathomable shot off Nathan Coulter-Nile there – it was like watching Sachin bat. He's in pretty good shape I think," Langer asserted. It must be remembered that Smith was having a superlative run of form prior to getting banned. His prolificacy in Tests was unmatched and comparisons were already being made between him and some of Australia's all-time greats.
The former Aussie opener also talked about the sheer love for batting Smith possesses, something that has been mentioned before also by various people associated with the Ashes-winning former captain. "He (Smith) loves batting – he's shadow batting on the sand, he's shadow batting in the shower – I'm not kidding," Langer revealed.
Apart from Smith, David Warner, who also served a one-year ban and is back in the team for the World Cup, too was praised by their coach. "Just look in his (Warner's) eye, he's really hungry. He's a great player we all know. He's so dynamic, he brings so much energy. That's all we ask from our players. So, it's really nice to have him back from the broader prospect," Langer said in praise for the left-handed opener who emerged as the leading run-scorer in the recently-concluded IPL.
With both these ace batsmen back in the Australian line-up, the defending champions look formidable going into the World Cup. Whether they can hold on to the trophy gained in 2015, only time will tell.