Steve Smith invited England to try and make ‘Bazball’ pay off in the Ashes after Australia bowlers took control of the World Test Championship final against India, declaring: “they haven’t come up against us yet”.
England have spent the last year establishing themselves as the most daring red-ball team around, scoring at a frantic rate against New Zealand, South Africa and Pakistan and notching 11 wins from 13 games under Ben Stokes’ captaincy.
One by one they have lined up to take aim at England’s ultra-attacking approach, but Stokes and company have yet to take their foot off the throttle.
The five Indian wickets to fall were shared evenly between Australia’s five-man attack
— ICC (@ICC) June 8, 2023
Australia clearly fancy their chances of breaking the streak and Smith saw no reason to doubt his side’s attack after they put the squeeze on India on day two at the Oval.
Seamers Pat Cummins, Scott Boland, Mitchell Starc and Cameron Green each took a wicket, as did spinner Nathan Lyon, with India closing day two on 151 for five – 318 adrift.
Asked if England’s preferred style would be a success against that bowling pack, Smith said: “I think I said it initially when ‘Bazball’ started that I’m intrigued to see how it goes against our bowlers. I’ve said that all along.
“I think it’d be difficult on this kind of wicket – up and down and seaming around – it’s not easy to defend, let alone come out and swing.
“They’ve obviously done well against some other attacks, but they haven’t come up against us yet. So, we’ll see.
“It’s obviously been exciting to watch. I must say I’ve enjoyed watching the way they’ve played and the way that I guess they’ve turned things around in the last 12 months or so, but it’s yeah we’ll wait and see how it comes off against us.”
Smith played a significant role of his own in putting Australia firmly in charge in London, taking his tally of Test centuries to 31. He spent just over five-and-a-half hours compiling 121, sharing a stand of 285 with the more expansive Travis Head (163).
Smith has now scored seven hundreds in English conditions, amassing 774 runs in the 2019 Ashes at a staggering average of 110.57.
“It was nice to spend a lot of time out there against some good bowlers on a challenging wicket after getting sent in. I’ll take a lot of confidence out of that and hopefully can keep building and have a successful summer here,” he said.
“I think in terms of English wickets it’s probably as close to Australia as you get. I’ve enjoyed playing here and it was nice to score a few out here again.”