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Steven Smith aims to polish bowling skills to cement ODI place

Steven-Smith-of-Australia-bowls-during-a-nets-session-at-St-Georges-Park-Cricket-stadium-on-February-18,-2014-in-Port-Elizabeth,
Steve Smith initally broke into the Australian team in 2009/10 as a bowling all-rounder © Getty Images

Melbourne: Aug 24, 2014

Australia‘s middle-order batsman Steven Smith‘s World Cup hopes could rest on the quality of his leg-spin bowling. Smith was added to the national squad for the tri-series in Zimbabwe against the hosts and South Africa, and looks set to add to the one One-Day International (ODI) cap he has received in the past 18 months — and the 34 he has overall — in Harare on Monday.

The 25-year-old enjoyed a breakout in the 2013-14 period with the bat in Test cricket, compiling four centuries in nine Tests to establish himself as a permanent fixture of Australia’s middle order.

But the part-time tweaker has revealed it is that facet of his game he has been implored to persist with.

“I’ve had quite a big focus on getting my batting right,” Smith told cricket.com.au, Cricket Australia’s website.

“I think I’ve done that now and it’s in a position where I’m happy with it, so I am working on my bowling a lot more now, so hopefully when I’m called upon to have a bowl in matches I’ll make an impact.”

Monday’s tri-series opener against Zimbabwe would seem an opportune time to experiment with the leg-spinner at the top level, in which he has collected 22 wickets at 35.45.

“I hope (I get a bowl),” Smith said. “I’ve been told I need to start working on my bowling more.

“It’s nice if you can play an allrounder in that aspect, someone who can do a job. So I’m looking forward to hopefully get some overs under my belt.

“It’s probably more the consistency and knowing where the ball is going more than anything,” he conceded.

“As a leg-spinner, you have to work quite hard at it — it’s probably the hardest style of bowling in the game and it takes a lot of hard work. So I’m going to be putting in the hours over the next few weeks.”

Smith could also be set to benefit from the expert tutelage of legendary spinner Muttiah Muralitharan, who joins the Australia squad when they travel to the United Arab Emirates to play Pakistan in October.

“I think it would be a good experience, to work with one of the best bowlers of all time, and hear some of his ideas and learn from him,” he added, before expressing his desire to renew his work with leg-spinning great Shane Warne.

“I certainly benefited from when Warnie came over to Cape Town with us for that short stint, and I’d love to work with him again in the future.

With competition for places in Australia’s ODI middle-order continuing to heat up, Smith’s skills with the ball could give him a valuable edge over his rivals, who shape as fellow allrounders Shane Watson and Glenn Maxwell, and T20 skipper George Bailey.

“The World Cup is in the back of my mind. I’d love to be a part of that,” he said.

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