Steve Smith attempts at emulating Shahid Afridi to resurrect bowling career
Steve Smith picked up 2/19 against Jamaica Tallawahs in the CPL (Getty Images)

Banned from playing international cricket for a year, former Australia captain Steve Smith is working hard to revive his bowling skills. Smith, currently playing the Caribbean Premier League for the Barbados Tridents, is using ex-Pakistan cricketer Shahid Afridi as a reference to rejuvenate his neglected bowling career.

Smith, in addition to scoring 63 off 46 balls against the Jamaica Tallawahs, picked up 2/19, during which he got rid of openers Johnson Charles and Glenn Phillips – who had put on 80 on the board – on the same over. This was his first T20 wicket since 2014. Smith could have had a third had his teammate Raymon Reifer held on to a catch at the long-on boundary.

“I’ve changed a few things – I’m trying to base my action off Shahid Afridi actually and try and bowl quite fast and into the wicket,” Smith said after play. “There wasn’t a heap of bounce on this wicket so you could almost hit that back-of-a-length and make them go across the line. “Fortunately, it worked tonight.”

Afridi started our primarily as a batsman, scoring that belligerent 37-ball hundred against Sri Lanka but over the years turned into an effective legspinner for Pakistan. He ended up with 395 wickets in ODIs and 98 in T20Is. On the contrary, Smith made his debut for Australia against Pakistan in 2010 as a legspinner, before going on to establish himself as one of world’s best batsmen. He even reached the pinnacle of Test rankings for batsmen. Subsequently, as his batting achieved greater heights, Smith cut down on his bowling despite having taken 61 international wickets.

“He (Afridi) has played for a long time. He’s been a terrific legspinner,” Smith said. “As I’m getting a bit older I can’t walk in anymore and bowl as fast as I need to, so I’ve got a bit more momentum through my run-up so I can get the ball down a bit quicker, otherwise it just goes miles. So yeah, change it up and it works.”

Barred from participating in the IPL, Big Bash League and with English county sides warned not to consider them by the ECB, Smith recently turned out in Canada’s inaugural Global T0 tournament, scoring 167 runs at an average of 33 in six matches and is set to return to Sydney first-grade cricket for Sutherland in September.