EXCLUSIVE: Sussex to allow Australia’s star batter Steve Smith an Ashes warm-up with a short spell in the County Championship this summer
- Sussex are set to grant Australia star Steve Smith an Ashes warm-up this summer
- The deal for the 33-year-old would see him play up to four first-class matches
- It would provide the batter a great opportunity for a tune-up ahead of the series
Sussex are set to grant Steve Smith an Ashes warm-up with an early-season stint in the County Championship.
The deal for the 33-year-old, which is close to being finalised, would see him play up to four first-class matches before the World Test Championship final at the Oval in early June.
Australia have all but qualified for that match, which is shortly followed by the five-Test Ashes series from June 16. The time with Sussex would be a perfect acclimatisation for the tourists’ vice-captain and star batter.
Sussex are set to grant Australia’s star batter Steve Smith, 33, a warm-up for the Ashes series
The Antipodean side defeated South Africa 2-0 in a three-game Test series ending in January
Despite being offered a three-year deal by Surrey as a teenager, and the chance to play for England courtesy of his British mother Gillian, Smith has never played in the Championship.
His only spell here as a first-team domestic cricketer saw him play five Twenty20 matches for Worcestershire in 2010.
Smith was looking to play three Championship matches in May but may now play four. Sussex travel to Gloucestershire in late April, then in May go to Worcestershire and Leicestershire before a home match against Glamorgan.
Smith would further boost the second-tier side, who have signed India’s Cheteshwar Pujara
Sussex have a free overseas player slot after West Indies fast bowler Jayden Seales picked up a knee injury, ruling him out of the start of the campaign.
Smith’s arrival would further boost the ambitions of the Division Two club, who have already signed India star Cheteshwar Pujara.
Although Smith’s record suggests he hardly needs further preparation — his Test average of 65 away against England is superior to his career mark of just under 61 — some will question the merits of an English county allowing an arch-rival’s best player a tune-up before the biggest series of all.
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