Steven Smith was dismissed 5 out of 6 times by Rangana Herath © AFP
Steven Smith was dismissed 5 out of 6 times by Rangana Herath © AFP

Australian captain Steven Smith has revealed the details of his talk with Sri Lanka spin wizard Rangana Herath, who destroyed the touring team in the recently-concluded three-Test series. Herath bagged a record 28 wickets in the series wherein Sri Lanka registered their first-ever whitewash against a major Test side. Australia, who were placed at No. 1 in the ICC Test Rankings when they entered the Warne-Muralitharan Trophy 2016, were blanked 0-3 by a resurgent Sri Lanka. Herath played a massive role in Sri Lanka’s win and the Australian captain has acknowledged that. ALSO READ: Mitchell Starc stands tall amid Australian ruins

Australia had to relinquish their top spot in ICC Test Rankings to India, and the tourists will now have to fight for their pride going into a five-match ODI series against Sri Lanka, in which Herath will not featured as he has retired from limited-overs cricket.

Smith wrote in his column for Fox Sports, “I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t replayed my dismissals from this series over and over in my head when I’ve been alone in my hotel room. Looking back, there are several shots that I regret playing. I regret playing a cut shot and getting bowled by Rangana Herath – twice. Those ones really hurt me because I’d practised that exact thing in the nets a huge amount in the lead-up to this series.”

Smith added, “I know I need to play with a straighter bat in these conditions in order to protect myself from the ball that stays low. So to get out trying to play a cut shot is extremely disappointing. I also regret standing on middle and leg stump in the second innings of the first Test, and getting out lbw. If I was batting on leg stump I probably would have got my bat in the way, and not been out.” ALSO READ: What a month this has been for Test cricket lovers!

“Those sorts of things make me angry with myself, given how much I’ve prepared for those scenarios in the nets. I really need to make sure I learn from those mistakes so they don’t happen again. At least for the one-dayers I know that Herath won’t be there – he’s retired from ODI cricket. The bloke may be 37-years-old but he’s still a real handful as a bowler. I would know – he got me out five times out of six in this series!”

Smith heaped praise on Herath, saying the batsmen need to be at the top of their game in order to score against the left-arm spinner. He wrote, “You’ve really got to earn your runs against Herath. He hardly ever gives you a loose ball so you have to be right on top of your game all the time. Plus, he admits that he often doesn’t know how much the ball is going to turn – so if he doesn’t know, the batsman doesn’t have much chance.”

“We actually had a drink with the Sri Lankans after the game, and I had a chat to Herath about his bowling tactics. I joked with him that he better stay retired from one-dayers because now I might finally be able to score some runs! He was gracious enough to explain little things like how he changes the trajectory of the ball just by adjusting the height of his arm, and how when there’s a breeze he puts the shiny side of the ball on the outside to try get the ball to drift,” Smith explained.

Smith was frank in his assessment, as he added, “I normally wouldn’t talk so openly with an opponent like that, but he got me out so often that I needed to try work out what to do! I really appreciated him being so open with me – I guess he figures he won’t be around next time we visit Sri Lanka so he can share a few of his tactics with us.”