Australia batsman Steve Smith enjoyed a splendid return to international cricket after serving a 12-month ban following the ball tampering incident. Smith, who scored 379 runs in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, followed it up with another tremendous performance in the Ashes, where he amassed 774 runs, ending up as the series' top run-scorer.
Much was talked about the rivalry between Smith and England's fiery pacer Jofra Archer and it did turn into a fascinating battle. While the cricketing world was in awe of Smith's record-breaking acts, cricketing legend Sachin Tendulkar analysed the reasons behind Smith's excellent Ashes performance in a video uploaded on his official Twitter account.
— Sachin Tendulkar (@sachin_rt) September 19, 2019
"In the first Test match against Steve Smith, the English bowlers tried getting him out in the slip cordon. What he started doing, was he would shuffle across and expose his leg stump. He was leaving the ball and being selective really smartly," the Master Blaster opined.
"In the Lord's Test, England decided to put in a leg slip for Smith. Especially against Jofra Archer, there were a few short-pitched deliveries that troubled him. Smith was getting in line with a little bit on the back foot. The most important thing for any batter is to keep the head position forward and the bodyweight should be, if not in line, at least marginally forward. That's the best thing a batsman can do," the 46-year-old added.
The veteran also felt that Smith got into bad positions whenever he faced Archer's short balls.
'So that's why, whenever Jofra Archer bowled a short ball, he got into bad positions. That's how he also got hit. I am sure he has gone back and worked on his technique and set-up. Whenever there was a leg slip, he would stop going across and exposing his leg stump because the bowlers were targeting him in the area.
"If you go across and lean backwards, it is going to be difficult to keep the ball down, it's going to go up in the air. So you can't be on top of the ball if you move that way. But, if you go there and hold your left foot in, then you are constantly on top of the ball," the Mumbaikar added.
Although Archer failed to dismiss Smith in the series, the right-hander was struck on the head by a sharp bouncer from the 24-year-old England pacer in the second Test. He eventually missed the third Test in Leeds due to concussion, following which he came back strongly in the fourth Test to slam a double century.
Tim Paine-led Australia retained the Ashes urn following the conclusion of the fourth Test in Manchester, where the visitors took a 2-1 lead. England however, bounced back to grab a consolation victory in the fifth Test at The Oval by beating the Aussies by 135 runs and levelling the series 2-2.
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