Steve Smith could play for Sussex ahead of The Ashes: Details
- Steve Smith has scored 8,000+ runs in Tests
- He recently scored his 30th century in Test cricket
- Australia are next set to tour India for the Border Gavaskar series
Steve Smith is reportedly set to play for County side Sussex in the build-up to the Ashes that will be held in England later this year.
Smith, who has decided not to participate in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2023, is in discussions with Sussex over a short-time deal that would see him play just "three or four games," according to a report in Sydney Morning Herald.
No contract has yet been signed with Sussex, who play in Division Two, with a decision expected to be made in the coming week.
It is understood that Smith has spent the last few months holding discussions with various county sides over a small deal. The Australian batsman was preferably looking to join a club in Division One, with Kent seen as an ideal given his links to the county following a stint in club cricket at Sevenoaks Vine CC in 2007, which led to a one-off second-team appearance at Canterbury. However, the club's situation and Smith's availability did not match.
A short-team stint with a county side would help Smith to get accustomed to English conditions ahead of their likely appearance in the World Test Championship (WTC) final at the Kia Oval in June, along with their subsequent Ashes series, beginning on June 16 at Edgbaston.
England were hammered 4-0 in the previous Ashes series that took place Down Under in 2020-21. However, since then, England have undergone a massive transition under the new leadership of captain Ben Stokes and Test head coach Brendon McCullum. England are on a run of nine wins from 10 Tests.
Stokes, England's Test skipper, recently expressed slight disapproval at a county deal for Smith when the former was told about this possibility during his side's recent tour of Pakistan.
"It's good for the county game to see that players of Steve's calibre want to come over and play. But, I don't know – it's one of those where you probably prefer them not to get any game time out here before the Ashes. At the same time, it is what it is," Stokes said in an interview.
Australia's upcoming series is a big home in India as the two sides are set to lock horns in a four-match Border Gavaskar series. It is scheduled to begin on Feb. 9 in Nagpur, with the remaining Tests to be played in Delhi (Feb.17-21), Dharamsala (March 1-5), and Ahmedabad (March 9-13).
Australia's squad for India Tests: Pat Cummins (c), Ashton Agar, Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Peter Handscomb, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Lance Morris, Todd Murphy, Matthew Renshaw, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, David Warner.
Australia recently defeated South Africa 2-0, with the final Test ending in a draw in Sydney. Smith finished as the leading scorer with 231 runs in three Tests at an average of 57.75, including a century that was his 30th in his Test career.
With 8,647 runs, Smith is now the fourth-highest run-scorer for Australia, having surpassed Michael Clarke (8643) and Hayden (8625) during his hundred at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) in the New Year's Test.