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In-form Steve Smith ready for battle after England win

Australia's Steve Smith celebrates a century
Australia's Steve Smith celebrates a century
©Action Images via Reuters/Peter Cziborra
 

Steve Smith insists he’s hungrier than ever after he slammed his first century since returning to the sport.

  • Smith hits impressive century in their 12-run win against England at the Hampshire Bowl.
  • Australia open up against Afghanistan next week.

The former Australian captain seems to back to his best, with his side’s opening match of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup against Afghanistan just one week away.

He hit 116 off 102 balls in a trademark classy innings as Australia beat world number one side England by 12 runs in Southampton.

It was the fourth time in as many matches that he has passed fifty, following on from unbeaten scores of 89 and 91 and 76 in Australia’s last three warm-up games.

“I’m not reading too much into it, they’re just practice games at the moment, hopefully I can keep this form for the real stuff and we’ll make a judgment then,” said Smith.

“Not too many players have a year out of the game. Having performed at a high level for four to five years to have a year away has helped freshen me up and come back hungrier than ever. I’ve been able to work on a few different things and get fitter.

“I’m just trying to keep my head down and just do my job. Fortunately I was able to score a few runs and more importantly spend some time in the middle before our first game.

“I’m feeling calm at the crease and hitting the right balls to the boundary. Anytime you make a hundred for Australia it’s a real honour and great to do.”

It’s also ominous for Australia’s rivals that Smith is not even at full fitness, as he continues his recovery from elbow surgery earlier this year.

“It’s coming along pretty well but I haven’t been able to really test it yet throwing-wise,” he added.

“I’d say I’m probably at about 80 per cent throwing-wise. Hopefully it can progress a little bit further before the first game.

“I’ll be ready to if I’m called upon.  We’ll see how we go. The ball’s actually coming out pretty well so if needed then I’m available to bowl.”

This was not a full international and England played 15 players due to injuries, including fielding coach Paul Collingwood, who celebrates his 43rd birthday tomorrow.

But claiming the scalp of their old enemy - and the world’s number one ODI team - won’t harm confidence.

“We spoke at the start of the day about England being the number one side in the world. Their one-day cricket has been phenomenal the past couple of years, they're playing some terrific cricket,” added Smith.

“You want to try and keep that winning feeling going – it's a habit. Whilst it is a practice match, it is good over the line against the number one side in the world.”