STEVE-SMITH

Steve Smith is among the handful of players who have improved significantly over the past season or two. With an impressive show against India in the home Test series, followed by successful run in ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, Smith not only ensured Australia’s progress but he also made giant strides and established himself as one of the most feared batsman in international circuit. Currently busy with Indian Premier League (IPL) 2015 for Rajasthan Royals (RR), Smith has successfully taken charge of the team that has qualified for the second round for the third time in history. In a brief chat with Devarchit Varma, Smith discusses about his batting, Rajasthan Royals, the burnout that comes along with an extremely busy schedule, and more.

CricketCountry (CC): In the past it has been seen that RR slips after making good start in the tournament. Don’t you think it should be the other way round?

Steven Smith (SS): Look, in such tournaments you should be playing your best towards the end. If the tournament goes into the business end and we still have one game to go and hopefully we can finish on a good note and win this game, we can gain momentum heading into the finals.

CC: RR tend to make a lot of changes in the batting order, especially in the lower-order. Do you think this has any impact on the performances?

SS: I think it will be a poor excuse to give, to say why we have not performed the way we would have liked. I think everyone is adaptable and they know what we are about here at the Royals. We try and match up with everyone as much as we can with different players and different situations, and we are right behind it.

CC: RR seemed to have lost momentum which they had garnered in their earlier part of the tournament. What do you think is the reason behind this?

SS: It is a long tournament (14 games), and you are probably going to have a little patch where you lose a few games; I think we lost five on the trot which had a couple of rain-affected games as well, which did not help our momentum. I think it is a long tournament; you are going to lose games; and there is no doubt in that. Hopefully we can get back to the way we started and finish really well.

CC: What is the current mood in the team, having lost the advantage and the possibility to have been the first team to qualify for the Playoff?

SS: I think the team is going well. We had a positive finish to the last game, and we know that if we play the brand of cricket we want to play, which is positive as well as aggressive, put on a good show.

CC: How happy are you with your current form?

SS: I would have liked to score a few more runs but I feel good at the crease at the moment. I feel I am hitting the ball well and hopefully some good runs are there for me at the back end [of the IPL 2015].

CC: You are one of the batsmen who play spin really well in the subcontinent. Can you explain us about the development?

SS: I try to use my feet as much as possible whether it is going down the wicket or going back. I think that is the key for me — to make sure I am watching the ball closely and being able to read the trajectory of the ball. I think that is the most important thing for me.

CC:  Do you think continuous cricket over last six months is going to take a toll on the body and mind somewhere down the line, especially with the Ashes coming up?

SS: I am not too sure. I hope not. I am just enjoying playing at the moment and looking forward to going over to the West Indies before the Ashes and playing two Tests there. I think that is going to be a great experience. I hope it does not take too much of a toll. I am looking forward to what is coming up.

CC: What has been your experience and learning from the IPL as a batsman as well as a captain?

SS: I think just being able to learn of different people and different cultures. You are playing with and against some of the best players from around the world, so it is nice to try and learn of them. It is the same thing when it comes to captaincy. You are captaining players from different parts of the world and learning what they try and do in different circumstances, what sort of plans they want, and many different things. It is nice to learn all of that.

CC: Will you be the full-time captain of RR henceforth?

SS: I am not too sure. That is not my decision to make. If that happens, then so be it. I am just enjoying playing at the moment.

CC: How is it working with Rahul Dravid? What kind of learning you get from the Indian legend as a batsman?

SS: It is nice to have Rahul around the group — he has got so much of experience and is so well-respected. He knows a lot about the game and reads the game really well. I think it is great, particularly for the young Indian players to be around him and to learn of him.

CC: The explosive part of your batting was perhaps first witnessed with the Pune Warriors India (PWI). How was it playing under Sourav Ganguly? Did he tell you be aggressive?

SS: Look, I think each player plays the game differently. I don’t really like to listen to too many people who tell me how to bat. It is about going out there and learning it yourself and getting through different situations on your own. It was great to have played for PWI for a couple of years and learn. Now it is great to be with the Royals. I am learning different parts of the game here as well.

CC: What is it between you and India? An excellent series back home and this IPL have been very good for you.

SS: [Laughs] I do not know about that! It was nice to be able to score some runs throughout the summer against India, that’s for sure. I am just enjoying myself here at the IPL at the moment. I have not got as many runs as I would have liked, so hopefully I can turn that around.

(Devarchit Varma is a reporter with CricketCountry. He can be followed on Twitter @Devarchit)