Cricket

Smith willing to trade T20 World Cup participation to be fit for Ashes

In order to fully fit for the Ashes series later in the year, Steve Smith said he could rule himself out of the T20 World Cup if the need arises. Smith, who opted out of Australia’s white-ball tours to West Indies and Bangladesh, is in the middle of a rehabilitation program for his injured left elbow. While he remains hopeful of participating in both the World Cup and the Ashes, he’s not averse to giving up on the former for the latter.

“There’s still a bit of time between now and (the T20 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 (July 2). “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.”

With how Smith has dominated the Ashes over the years, it’s little surprise he prioritised the Ashes. Smith aggregated 1969 runs at 93.76 in 14 matches in the last three series, with eight hundreds.

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. 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.

“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. 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. I actually woke up a little bit sore after my last hit, so next hit, I’ll stay at 15, and that’s how it works.

“The Ashes is the primary focus from my point of view, (so) I need to be in a position where I can bat for long periods of time, and at the moment I can’t do that, which is annoying. But I’m getting there slowly, which is hard – for someone who wants to hit a million balls, it’s not great being capped at 15 minutes. But I understand now that this sort of thing can take some time, and if I want to get myself right for the summer, then I need to take these measures seriously and take my time,” he added.

The T20 World Cup is scheduled to kick-off on October 17 and will run until November 14, before Australia take on Afghanistan in a Test from November 27. The first Ashes Test will begin on December 8.

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