England tried many different tactics to Steve Smith during the first innings of the series at Brisbane, and understandably so – as Will Macpherson says, it takes strangely brilliant plans to dismiss strangely brilliant batsmen.
With the Aussies four down overnight at The Gabba and surprise recall Tim Paine due in next, the Australian captain and world No.1 batsman’s wicket holds the key for Joe Root’s team. But how can you get him out? We delve into the CricViz database for clues and came up with a few ideas…
Win the toss and bat
Tick. Root managed Part A of this masterplan in the first Test and it did wonders for his team’s chances of victory. Smith averages 39.30 when fielding first and 74.28 when batting first.
Get it going away from him
Spin, seam or swing, Smith struggles (comparatively) against the ball that moves away from him. He averages just 39.67 against those balls, perhaps a result of the relative bottom-handedness of his technique. That’s compared to a superb average of 71.74 against deliveries moving in.
Pick Mason Crane
Not much use in the Brisbane Test, obviously, but with Smith such a master against the ball spinning towards him – covering his stumps and moving his feet with confidence – the logical solution would be to get the ball spinning the other way.
And the numbers prove it: Smith’s average against off-spin is 86.23, but against leg-spin just 39.77. England have young leg-spinner Crane as an option in their squad. If Smith gets away from them in the series they may be forced to consider his inclusion.
Get Moeen Ali to develop a doosra overnight
Same stat, different solution. Not too much to ask, is it? Mo?