Steve Smith cracked a big smile after a net session this week declaring he “found a little something” that could turn his batting around after a surprisingly lean IPL.
The batting dynamo conceded he was “disappointed” with his return for the Rajasthan Royals, which was 311 runs, with three 50s, in 14 games as his team missed the finals.
The early finish has left Smith without a game of cricket for a month, a long time for someone who craves batting like he does.
But Smith has taken advantage of the smaller Australian training groups in quarantine in Sydney, spent more time in the nets and said he had “found my hands”, a signal that he has unlocked the secret to his best form just in time for Friday’s opening ODI against India.
“I was pretty disappointed with my batting throughout the IPL. I wasn’t consistent enough,” Smith said on Tuesday.
“I started well and had a few innings here and there. I never really got into a really good rhythm.
“The last few days I have found something, that people close to me that know me well know, I have sort of found my hands the last few days which I am extremely excited about.
“It just hasn’t been right until a couple of days ago, and everything clicked in. It’s taken me three-and-half, four months to do it.
“I look forward to going back to the nets, to reinforce it, and look forward to getting started against India.”
Smith, who averages 60 against India in ODIs, said in the IPL he drifted away from the things that had made him such a batting force, looking for ways to have an impact.
But settling back into his place with his Australian teammates, Smith has reaffirmed what works best for him and will return to those ways against India.
“I got caught up a little bit with trying to be too powerful, and that’s not quite my game,” he said.
“There are players around the world who can hit sixes at will, and I am not one of those. For me it’s about playing proper cricket shots, hitting the gaps, manipulating the field, and I probably went away from that and I know that’s the best way I play.
“Keeping my thoughts clear and hitting the ball in my areas. I still think there is a need for players like that in the short form.”
Smith is itching to play, having also missed four months of cricket during the middle of 2020 because of COVID-19 lockdowns.
He has even been getting messages from his teammates about his habit of late-night shadow batting in his hotel room in Sydney.
But he said he was “feeling good” despite being on the road since August, and his recent net form had left him excited about opening the summer this week.
“I’ve done a bit of shadow batting, I copped a few messages last night to tell me to stop tapping the bat down,” Smith said.
“But because we have had a smaller group for a training session it’s been good for batters like myself to be able to get the time I can in the nets and not have to worry about helping out either people.
“I’ve had some good bats the last few days.
“I haven’t played a game for, it will be close to a month by the time we play our first game on Friday after being knocked out of the IPL early.
“I’m really excited to get back playing.”