Smith ‘excited’ at chance for Ashes tune-up with Sussex
May 2, 2023 / 10:07 pm
Steve Smith is excited to gain his first taste of English domestic County Championship cricket after “the stars aligned” to give him the chance to play for Sussex ahead of the Ashes.
The Australia batter will play three games for the club in May starting with the trip to Worcestershire on Thursday, before games at Leicestershire and at home to Glamorgan.
The first Ashes Test will begin at Edgbaston on June 16, and some critics have questioned whether it could damage England’s chances giving Smith the opportunity to have game time in the country in the weeks leading up.
Sussex coach Paul Farbrace dismissed the suggestion and said having a player of the 33-year-old’s calibre in the County Championship can only be good for English cricket.
Smith’s arrival has been a coup for Sussex after they finished seventh in Division Two last season.
The former Australian captain – who stood in as leader in India when Pat Cummins returned home to attend his dying mother – was available after opting out of this year’s Indian Premier League.
“Particularly coming off the Test series there, I’ve done that a couple of times and it’s very long, having the IPL on the back of it.
“I’ve got a lot of cricket coming up and a window opened up to come and play some county cricket. It’s something I’ve never done and have always wanted to do, so the stars aligned in a way.
“We are over here for the English summer and it’s a good opportunity to play some county cricket, which is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. It’s going to be a good couple of months. I’m excited.
“I’m just looking forward to getting a few games in here for Sussex where hopefully I can have an impact on some younger players and the team has started really well this year. Hopefully get some good results and help Sussex win some games of cricket.”
Smoth, whose mother is English-born, played club and second XI cricket in England as a teenager and, briefly in 2010, T20 cricket for Worcestershire.
Farbrace was emphatic that his presence was a sign of the growing appeal of the County Championship.
England captain Ben Stokes questioned his involvement so close to the start of the Ashes but the Sussex coach insisted the club have not compromised England’s chances of winning a first series since 2015.
“The fact people are talking about Championship cricket is only good for the game,” said Farbrace. “I’ve got good friends who think that we’re helping Australia to win the Ashes. We’re not. I think this is really good for English cricket.
“It was a very easy decision. It’s about trying to create this winning mentality and a culture within our set-up that we expect to win.”
Of his side’s chances of winning this summer, Smith added: “England just play tremendous cricket at home all the time. We generally play pretty well at home as well. Anyone who plays at home knows the conditions a lot better.
“It’s going to be a terrific summer. Both teams are playing good cricket, different brands of cricket.”
AAP (C) 2023
Steve Smith will play for Sussex at Worcestershire on Thursday as part of his Ashes preparation. (Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS)