Australia batsman Steve Smith has hailed the impact of coach Justin Langer, saying he is an ideal guy to have around a dressing room. Australia’s disappointing show against India in the Test series has seen many spots come under the scanner and according to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald, senior players find former all-rounder and assistant coach Andrew McDonald more approachable than Langer. However, Smith has given no such indication and he went on singing praises of the current coach of the Australian side.
“Absolutely, I think he’s (Langer) done a terrific job over the last couple of years, I wasn’t there the first year, but since I’ve been back I think he’s done a great job,” ESPNCricinfo quoted Smith as saying.
“He always wants to get better and that’s all you can ask of anyone in the setup, whether it be a player or a coach, as long as you’re striving to improve every day, then that’s all you can ask.
“That kind of thing [split coaching] has been floated for a while for different formats and different teams and things like that around the world, not just Australia, so I think it’d be interesting.
“But Justin’s got my full support at the moment, I think he’s doing a terrific job and he has done for a few years, and I can’t see it changing anytime soon,” he added.
Smith was not in good form in the first two Tests against India, but he made a comeback in the third Test as he went on to score a century at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG).
The Indian team employed different tactics to him as the visitors completely blocked off the run-scoring on the leg-side.
“Teams are starting to attack me a little bit differently or bowl to me a little bit differently, so I’ve had to make small adjustments,” Smith said.
“At times I’ve had to be perhaps a little more aggressive than I have been in the past. I think I did that pretty well in the last two Test matches here and just coming up with some different plans and different scoring options but continuing to also play the game in front of me.
“There are times in Test cricket where you’ve got to absorb pressure, a time when you’ve got to put the pressure back on the bowlers and try and get on top of them, and I did that well in the last two games, perhaps not as well in the first two of the summer.
“I felt I learned a bit out of the first two games that I could improve on at the back end. Teams have different plans to me and I’ve got to keep working on my game and I love doing that, I love working hard and finding new ways to do things and getting better,” he added.
Smith claimed his third Allan Border Medal in the 2021 Australian Cricket Awards on Saturday. ODIs were the most frequent format for the Australian men’s team in the voting period with 13 matches played, opening the door for multi-format star Smith (126 votes) to take home his third Allan Border Medal and the Men’s ODI Player of the Year.
He topped the runs across all formats with 1098 at 45.75, blasting four half-centuries and four tons.
In what was an interrupted year for the men’s side throughout the pandemic, Smith started the year with an outstanding ODI campaign in India with a 98 and 131, followed by a 76 in the first ODI against South Africa.
In the Allan Border Medal race, Smith (126) finished ahead of fellow multi-format star Pat Cummins (117) and limited-overs skipper Aaron Finch (97) who capped off a dominant year with the bat.
Smith’s ODI haul of 568 runs at 63.11 from 10 innings were enough to pip Finch who scored 673 runs at 56.08 from 13 innings.
Adam Zampa finished third after claiming 27 wickets – 11 more wickets than the next best – at an average of 23.74.
Smith finished equal fourth in the Men’s Test Player of the Year award behind the world’s number one ranked bowler Cummins, with the voting period covering just the Test series against India due to the pandemic.
Cummins was the Player of the Series with 21 wickets at 20.04, while fellow quick Josh Hazlewood (9) and last year’s Test Player of the Year Marnus Labuschagne (8) rounded out the top three.
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