Ashes 2019: Steve Waugh sounds Steve Smith warning to England ahead of first Test
Former Australia capain Steve Smith averages over 61 in Test cricket. © AFP

Australian cricket icon Steve Waugh has tipped Steven Smith to have a strong Ashes 2019 in England, while warning the home team and their supporters not to underestimate the returning batsman’s chances of a successful comeback to Tests after more than a year away.

Waugh, currently working with Australia’s Test players in the capacity of mentor, is confident that Smith can return to his world-beating ways in Test cricket after serving a 12-month ban for his role in the ball-tampering scandal of 2018.

“The thing I know about Steve Smith is he always finds a way,” Waugh told reporters at Edgbaston. “If someone’s going to write him off, or say he’s not what he used to be, they do that at their peril because he’s a guy that finds a way.

“His training and his work ethic is exceptional, I’ve never seen a guy hit as many balls. He’ll be thoroughly prepared for the first Test match.”

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Smith, 30, has scored 6199 runs in 64 Test matches at an average of 61.37, with 23 hundreds and 24 fifties.

Steve Smith booed
Steve Smith was booed by fans during the World Cup. (Image: Twitter)

Smith, along with David Warner and Cameron Bancroft, were last week named in Australia’s Ashes squad for the first time since the tour of South Africa in March last year. Smith and Warner were regularly booed by groups of spectators during the recent Cricket World Cup held in England, while Bancroft can expect the same when he makes his return to international cricket in the Ashes.

Waugh, the last Australia captain to win a Test series on English soil back in 2001, does not feel that the trio will be fazed by taunts from English fans.

(READ: Can Australia break 18-year winless streak at Edgbaston?)

“From my experience with English crowds, I am sure they want England to win but when opposition teams play well – and we’ve had success here – the English crowds are the best in the world,” he said. “They really appreciate good cricket, and I hope that’s going to be the case. There will be a small element that’s going to make it tough for our guys, but that’s professional sport and it’s water off a duck’s back that sort of stuff.

“They’re ready for it and they’ve experienced it before. Their main focus is playing well, and once you go out in the middle, you are cocooned from all that sort of noise.”

The first Ashes Test starts Thursday at Edgbaston.