‘A blessing in disguise’: Australia captain Tim Paine on Steve Smith skipping net session due to back injury
Australia Test captain Tim Paine said Steve Smith not batting in the nets on Tuesday due to a back injury was a ‘blessing in disguise’ for his side going into the historic day-night pink-ball Test against India on December 17. Smith had walked off from the practice session looking a bit uncomfortable and the Australian spokesperson had later confirmed of a back injury.
Smith not batting in the nets due to a soar back just 2 days ahead of the Test series opener against India had cast doubts over his inclusion in the Australian playing XI for Thursday but Paine said he expects the right-hander to be fit and fine.
“Steve has had a stiff back a number of times of before — and you do when you bat at training as much as he does,” Paine said. “But his preparation has been very good. He has batted for the last week since we have been in Adelaide. For him to have a day off might actually be a blessing in disguise.”
Paine also added that Smith not batting in the nets was precautionary measure keeping the day-night Test in Adelaide in mind.
“Yesterday was more precautionary ... come tomorrow, I think if he’s sore in the back, he normally gets through it and gets up and finds a way to score runs.”
Paine meanwhile added that 21-year-old allrounder Cameron Green is medically fit to make his test debut in the day-night fixture, but won’t divulge whether struggling opener Joe Burns will play.
“We will be keeping that in-house at the moment,” Paine said Wednesday.
All-rounder Green had recovered from a concussion and was set to make his test debut.
“He is pretty good to go,” Paine said. “He obviously trained with us yesterday, reports are he has pulled up really well this morning. All things going well, Cam Green will make his test debut tomorrow.”
But who opens the batting remains clouded with Burns in a form slump and Marcus Harris summoned as a replacement for David Warner, who has a groin injury.
Paine said promoting Matthew Wade to open was a possibility.
“He is certainly an option . . . no doubt about that,” Paine said. “We have got a number of guys who are willing to open the batting . . . he is willing to put his body on the line for the team. Obviously we have got a scenario where we could have different openers and we have had a number of guys put their hand up to do it if it’s the best thing for the team.”
Australia coach Justin Langer hasn’t rule out Burns but acknowledged that the incumbent test opener’s 62 runs from nine first-class innings has put pressure on his spot in the team.
“I’ve been talking to Joe . . . I’ve been privately and publicly backing Joe in the whole time,” Langer said. “He’s a very good player. You don’t lose your talent overnight. He also understands that runs are the greatest currency for any player. He’s been light on.”
India comes into the match with a strong record at Adelaide Oval, having two wins, two losses and a draw in the last five matches the team has played there.
Incredibly one of those victories came in 2003 when Australia won the toss and batted, scored 556 in its first innings but lost by four wickets. India came back to score 523 in its first innings, then shut down Australia for 196 in the second before scoring 233-6 to win.
Australia and India finished all square in the limited-overs portion of the current tour, with Australia winning the ODI series and India taking the Twenty20 series.
India skipper Virat Kohli lead his team in the series-opener, the first day-night test between the teams, but then return to India to be with his wife, who is expecting the couple’s first child in January.
India won the series here in 2018 for its first test series win in Australia.
The remaining three tests will be played in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.
(With agency inputs)