Sports

Steve Smith willing to skip T20 World Cup to be fit for Ashes

Melbourne, Jun 3 (UNI) Recuperating from an elbow injury, Australia batsman Steve Smith has said that Test cricket remains his top priority and he could rule himself out of the T20 World Cup in order to be fully fit for the Ashes series against England, later in the year.

The 32-year-old had opted out of Australia’s white-ball tours to West Indies and Bangladesh due to the elbow injury.

‘There’s still a bit of time between now and (the World Cup), and I’m tracking okay at the moment – it’s slow, but I’m going okay,’ Smith told cricket.com.au on Friday.

The T20 World Cup is scheduled to run from October 17 to November 14 in the UAE and Oman while the Ashes is scheduled to begin on December 8 in Brisbane.

‘I’d love to be part of the World Cup, for sure. But from my point of view, Test cricket, that’s my main goal – to be right for the Ashes and try to emulate what I’ve done in the last few Ashes series I’ve been involved in,’ Smith said.

Returning to action after a year-long ban due to his role in the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa, Smith had amassed 774 runs in four Tests at an average of 110.57, including two hundreds, to emerge as the star performer in the last Ashes series.

Smith has dominated the Ashes over the years by scoring 1969 runs at 93.76 in 14 matches in the last three series, with eight hundreds.

His involvement will be crucial for the hosts when the rivalry resumes at the Gabba and Smith wants to settle for nothing short than being at his absolute best.

‘I want to put myself in a position where I can have that kind of impact,’ he said.

‘If that does mean not partaking in the World Cup, then we’ll have to go down that path, but hopefully we don’t have to go there,’ he added.

The Australian batsman believes his current ailment began with pain in his left wrist at the start of last summer following a change in his batting grip, then moved into his elbow as the season wore on.

He ultimately pulled out of domestic action for a month through February-March, then returned in a 50-over match with NSW on March 31, making 86 not out, before heading to India for the now-suspended Indian Premier League.

“I still wasn’t quite 100 per cent (during the IPL), it was still bothering me a bit, and I was playing over there medicated – taking some painkillers and anti-inflammatories every time I batted,” he said.

“It got to a point where it wasn’t really improving much, and it probably got a little bit worse while I was over there,’ he added.

The traditionally favoured net batting has been bearing fruit for Smith and he is on road to recovery.

‘I’ve made a bit of progress with it the last few weeks. I started some batting, just 10 minutes at a time, and basically my path now to getting back to playing is building up from there,’ he said.

‘Because it’s a tendon (injury), it’s basically how you (feel when you) wake up the next day, so I start at 10 minutes and if I wake up the next day and I’m good, then I can go up to 12 minutes, and if I wake up well again, I go up to 15.

Currently that’s where I’m at – 15 minutes – and I’ve got to build up to 45 to get myself to a point where the medicos believe I can be comfortable,’ he concluded.

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