Mohali: Mar 14, 2013
The last time Steven Smith was here some two-and-a-half year ago, his overthrow cost Australia the match by a wicket, and the all-rounder is now eager to make up for that act of indiscretion by "contributing" to the team that is going through one of its worst crises in recent years.
Trailing 0-2 against a buoyant India, Smith is to play in the series' third and penultimate Test, day one of which has been washed out due to a heavy downpour.
"It's a little bit different from the last time I was here, when I was involved in a few overthrows. This is another opportunity to come back to the squad and I want to contribute," Smith, who started out as a leg-spinner, told reporters in Mohali on Thursday.
Coming on as a substitute on the final day, a direct hit was all Australia needed from Smith to win the match and spoil the day for VVS Laxman, who saw India home with a defiant knock of 73.
Smith has a Test batting average of just 28.77 from five appearances, while a bowling average of 73.33 isn't that great either, but the cricketer believed he has improved overall in the last 12-18 months.
"I am excited to be in the playing XI this time, hope there is play tomorrow. We have been training very hard, getting into the nets and working on our skills.
"I have improved in the 12-18 months. I am bit more stable, balanced and more selective in my shot-making now. I want to go out there and have a crack in the middle. I have always been more of a batsman, (though the) first two Tests I played as a bowler. I have worked on my technique in the last two years," he said.
Smith is hoping to get some assistance from the pitch, which has been a subject of discussion over the last few days.
"The wicket looks dry and in the second innings if there is rough, I hope to use that to advantage," said Smith.
Meanwhile, it still remains to be seen whether sports psychologist Michael Lloyd would be the panacea for all of Australia's worries in the current tour, but Smith said the just-arrived addition to the team management is "good" at what he does.
"He asked us not to premeditate about anything and asked us to have a clear mind. He is good at what he does," he said.
Down in the dumps, the beleaguered Australian squad is seeking to procure the help of Lloyd in order to restore the morale of the squad, which has taken a beating after two humiliating defeats in Chennai and Hyderabad.
Lloyd has been flown in to India to work with players following Australia's 10th worst defeat in their 136-year history in the second Test.
He works across several CA-affiliated teams and was scheduled to arrive before Australia's tour turned sour with the axing of four key players for breach of discipline.
First Published: March 14, 2013, 4:29 pm