Smith’s reward for runs is rest ahead of Lord’s
TIME off will be Edgbaston hero Steve Smith's reward for a remarkable but also exhausting return to Test cricket.
Australian coach Justin Langer said the dual-century maker, last-day wicket-takers Nathan Lyon and Pat Cummins as well as opener David Warner would miss the trip to Worcester for a tour-game beginning on Wednesday.
Langer too will enjoy a mini-break in the eight-day gap between the first and second Tests with the player's partners and families set to join the tour which got off to the best possible start.
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Smith's wife, Danni, was on hand to witness his big runs at Birmingham and while it's expected he will put down his magic bat for a couple of days, Langer said if the batting maestro wanted to hit some balls as well, no-one would say no.
"He's under no instructions. He can hit as many balls as he wants. I don't think he will because he won't have anyone to throw them to him," Langer said.
"He can prepare however he wants to … and we will keep encouraging that. But he's going to be that tired after this game, physically and mentally so I'm sure he'll welcome the few days off."
With a dream comeback by Steve Smith, Australia won the opener of Ashes 2019 comprehensively by 251 runs. Watch Ashes winning captain @MichaelVaughan review the first Test with @collinsadam on #Centerstage— Cricbuzz (@cricbuzz) August 6, 2019
#SteveSmith #NathanLyon #ENGvAUS pic.twitter.com/pUyeg0AzKS
Langer marvelled at Smith's first Test efforts in which he said the 30-year-old took batting "to another level".
"You have in different teams, different eras, great players but for someone like Smudge (Smith) who is averaging over 60 and the way he played in this innings with all the pressure and everything that is on him it was not only great skill but enormous character," Langer said.
"Enormous courage, very brave, unbelievable concentration, unbelievable physical stamina, unbelievable mental stamina, all traits of great players."
While Smith's outstanding efforts stood out, Langer said the first Test victory was one for planning, and bold selections.
Australia made six changes from its last victory against Sri Lanka in February, recalling Smith, Warner and Cameron Bancroft, as well as Matthew Wade, as a batsman, and overlooking bowling strike weapons Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood.
Langer said the 251-win was less vindication for selectors, but more an indication, with such quality waiting in the wings, that Australia had the squad to break an 18-year drought of Ashes success in England.
"We won, from 8-122 and to win the Test match like we did, that shows incredible character, incredible fighting spirit," he said.
"While we could have picked any of the 17, look at the guys we picked and you go yeah they are all fighters.
"We've got a couple of all-rounders who didn't play this game, we've got two world-class bowlers sitting on the bench.
"Whatever conditions we play in I think we'll have people to cover those."
That could mean changes for the second Test at Lord's, potentially to the bowing attack. Bowling loads are being closely monitors, but Langer said the wicket would determine who plays.
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"They didn't bowl that many overs in the second innings (at Edgbaston) which is going to give us a really good headache going into the next Test," Langer said.
"We have always said, all through the World Cup and for this series we will maintain it, that we will look at the wicket at Lord's with the slope and the grass on it and there might be a bit of extra bounce, that we will pick the team that we think will win this Test match and that's the way we will keep going."