Bumper barrage awaits Smith on Boxing Day


Gutsy wicketkeeper BJ Watling was sporting a limp while speedster Lockie Ferguson has been ruled out of the tour with a serious calf injury sustained on the first day of his Test debut.

They did, however, salvage something out of the wreckage thanks to lion-hearted paceman Neil Wagner, who landed several blows on the Australian batsmen with his well-directed bouncers. The indefatigable left-armer claimed Smith’s wicket in each innings, both times to the short ball.

Steve Smith has not reached 50 in his past four Test innings.Credit:AAP

The Kiwis also dismissed Smith with the short ball at the World Cup, having him caught at leg gully for five – albeit to a full blooded pull shot.

“At the moment we’ve had some success. If you look at the World Cup we tried that tactic against him,” Black Caps coach Gary Stead said.

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“I expect we will still be discussing that, along with other ones if he manages to handle that. It’s something I imagine we will keep pursuing.”

Smith made 43 and 16 in Perth, taking his run of scores under 50 this summer to four. His strike rate in the first innings was the lowest of his career for any innings where he has scored 20 or more.

“Any time you get Steve Smith out for less than his average [63] is probably a good thing,” Stead said.

“It’s only one game and I know Steve Smith, if you happened to be around the nets the last few days, was in there every day working very, very hard on his game.

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“He will try and work out ways to combat what we do and we will need to have other plans as well if that doesn’t work for us.”

England believed they found a similar weakness in Smith after he was floored by a brutal lifter from speedster Jofra Archer at Lord’s. They had him caught on the leg side at The Oval but not before Smith had scored a priceless hundred at Old Trafford, which helped secure the Ashes.

Smith has previously said he is not worried at being bumped as it takes out other modes of dismissal like bowled, lbw and caught behind, though no batsman enjoys facing short-pitched bowling.

Smith suggested his form was more due to the pink ball than any tactic used by the Kiwis.

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In six Tests under lights, he averages 45 with one century from 11 innings – numbers which most international batsmen would take but well down on his career mark of 63. After two day/night Tests Smith said he is looking forward to a return to the red ball.

“The pink one is a little bit different, it comes off the wicket at different paces,” Smith said on Channel Seven.

“[I] couldn’t quite time the ball where I wanted to at certain times but no doubt I’m going to get a little bit in Melbourne, I dare say on probably a different wicket.”

Paine likened the short-pitched tactics from both sides to that used by Jardine.

“It was great theatre, wasn’t it,” Paine said. “We were just having a laugh before when we were bowling at their tail, we think it’s going to be a bit of Bodyline for a lot of the series.

“There’s been a lot of talk about it, but regardless of the pace of the two teams they are very, very skilled at executing that ball and they set great fields for it.”

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