The 31-year-old’s woeful form is definitely a worry for the hosts ahead of the third Test in Sydney starting from January 7. While some have questioned Smith’s technique against the Indian bowlers, former Australian skipper Kim Hughes offered a different point of view.
Hughes believes Smith’s time away from his family had taken a toll on him mentally.
“Look, Smith is a world-class player but hasn’t looked like it in the Test series. He has been away from his wife Dani for over four-and-a-half months due to cricket and the quarantine restrictions. Smith hasn’t been in a good space — away from his partner,” Hughes told TOI.
Smith hasn’t met his wife since August this year when he left for England to be part of a white-ball series.
Dani travelled from Sydney to Melbourne last week but the Covid-19 restrictions meant that she wasn’t allowed to spend Christmas with Smith. However, on Wednesday, Dani confirmed — via a social media post — that she was about to reunite with her husband.
“Wednesday, one more day until I’m allowed to see @steve_smith49! #ISO,” Dani posted on Instagram.
Hughes felt Smith will turn it around once he is back with his wife.
“I expect him to do well in Sydney. Smith just needs to spend some time in the middle and the runs will come automatically,” Hughes mentioned. He believed the return of David Warner into the side will make a big impact as Australia look to turn things around.
After inflicting a humiliating loss on India in the opening Test at Adelaide — one would have thought that Australia would go for the kill in the Melbourne game. But that didn’t happen as it was India who called the shots and levelled the series 1-1.
Hughes felt Australia let India off the hook in Melbourne by batting first after winning the toss.
“We missed a golden opportunity to go 2-0 up in the series. India would have been fragile after their collapse in Adelaide and with our three pacers on that Melbourne wicket, things would have been difficult for them. I was extremely surprised when we elected to bat first,” Hughes said.
Hughes, who played in 70 Tests and 97 ODIs for Australia, added that Rahane’s presence as a leader was the balm India needed to forget the wounds of the opening Test loss.
“What I liked the most about Rahane was his demeanor. Be it while batting or during the field setting, he looked totally in control of things and was unflappable. It’s nice to know that India has a player like Rahane who can rise to the role of captaincy and do it so efficiently in Virat Kohli’s absence,” said Hughes, who captained Australia in 28 Tests.