Does England have secret weapons to stop Steve Smith?


England seems to be already hitting the panic stations, but then the mystery that is Steve Smith forces opponents to act drastically.

The hosts left the spinner Moeen Ali and brought in the team the orthodox spinner of the left arm Jack Leach for the second ash test to the Lord as they try to rebound from a demoralizing loss of 251 in the opening of the series.

Ali is out of shape and lacking in confidence. He was inconsistent with Edgbaston and even sent down two accidental projectors, but he may consider himself unlucky to be discarded after a poor game as he is the world's leading wicket test player in the last 12 months.

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But in Leach, England has the closest thing to Smith's Kryptonite. The former Australian captain scored two tons at Birmingham in a spectacular comeback to the cricket test after his ban on tampering with the ball and speech immediately turned to how the home team could eventually stop the best batsman in the world.

One theory is the rotation of the left arm finger is the way to go. Smith's average test against that type of bowling is around 35 – his lowest against any bowling style and much lower than his career score of 62.96. When the ball moves away from Smith's bat – as Leach's deliveries will do – he averages 35.66, but when the ball turns on him, he averages 97.46.

These numbers were crumbled by Ben Jones of CricViz, who stated: "For whatever technical reason, there is something in the corner that disturbs Smith.

"More specifically, it is disturbed by the direction of the spin, because while it is more evident in front of the spinner of the left arm, it is the fact that the ball turns away which causes the real problem.

"You would always expect a beater to prefer to play balls that rotate inside, but you wouldn't expect the difference in the media to be so pronounced."

According to CricViz, Smith's scoring rate against orthodox pitchers on the left arm is also lower than his score against any other bowling in the tests at just under 2.8 points per over. Now, these aren't exactly figures that suggest bringing Leach alongside will undoubtedly solve Smith's problem in England, but it's a start.

Dean Elgar, part-time spinner of South Africa's left arm, rejected Smith twice in 41 balls in the tests, while the 30-year-old also had problems with specialists Ravindra Jadeja, Rangana Herath and Keshav Maharaj.

But it is worth noting that Smith's problems with left arm rotation are much more important in Asia than in other parts of the world. Fourteen of the 21 times he was fired from the left arm spinners in Test arrived in India or Sri Lanka.

Outside of Asia, Smith averaged 46 against left arm rotation, according to cricket writer Jarrod Kimber. Then throwing Leach the ball and asking him to get rid of the man many call the best since Bradman is not as simple as he seems.

Leach has no international experience but made a respectable start in his Test career, taking 20 wickets in five games at an average of 26.20. However, he will never have introduced himself to a beater from Smith's class.

Sports writer for TimesSteve James, states that the inclusion of Leach for the second test comes with a warning given its recent lack of exposure to long-shaped cricket. With the T20 national competition in England in full swing, James notes that Leach, a red ball specialist, has only launched three over in first-class cricket in the last month, leaving him in danger of being "undercooked" "for the test of the Lord.

If the tweaker fails to remove Smith, fans of England are hoping that the expressed rhythm of Jofra Archer can do it. The hero of the World Cup is almost certain to make his Test debut after being named to the team for the clash of the Lord, replacing Jimmy Anderson, who will miss the match with a calf injury.

Australian legend Shane Warne believes that Archer could be the key to stopping Smith's mad rush as "no one likes to face 90 km / h bombers".

Warne believes that the extra rhythm of Archer, as well as the knowledge gained playing alongside Smith for Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League, will support him if he is selected.

"Steve (Smith) has been the protagonist of the show so far, but now we have Jofra joining his team-mates Royals (and England) Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler", Warne, a former Rajasthani player who became the brand's ambassador for the T20 franchise team, said after Archer was named to the England team of 12 men.

"Obviously I'd like to see Steve go ahead and score a hundred in every single innings for the rest of the Ashes, but with the arrival of Jofra I think he will be ready to face his biggest challenge and this could make a difference in the next test .

"Nobody likes tackling 90-mile bowling players now."

Anderson managed only four overs before collapsing in Edgbaston and Warne said: "The loss of Anderson was a blow to England and they will really need Jofra to step up, but I think he has all the attributes to do it .

"They (Archer and Smith) will have faced each other a lot in networks, so if anyone has a plan, it will be Jofra."

The local press hopes that Archer comes to the rescue of England. Write for The Telegraph, Scyld Berry said: "Archer is needed to fire Steve Smith above all others.

"To Smith, of course, he will no longer be allowed to camp on his back outside the stump and wait, as he did for the bowling players of England's lower pace, not only in Edgbaston but in Australia during the previous Ashes series.

"Archer used his time in the T20 cricket to perfect his 90-mile yorkie now, while his bouncer has an almost unique quality in being so straight, down from wicket to wicket. Smith, however, will be nothing but a sitting duck. "

With AFP

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