Cricket Article

Smith wary of NZ, heaps praise on Williamson

Smith wary of NZ, heaps praise on Williamson Photo: TT
New Zealand's Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor walk in as rain stops play New Zealand v England

Australian batsman Steve Smith says his side “cannot take New Zealand lightly” when their three-match Test series gets underway in Perth on Thursday.

The Black Caps and Australians both arrived in Perth over the weekend ahead of the First Test, where the hosts are the favourites despite sitting three spots below New Zealand on the current ICC Test Rankings.

Australia are fresh from a 2-0 series win over Pakistan, while New Zealand got past England 1-0 in a home two-match Test series.

“They’re a good side,” Smith said. “They sneak under the radar.

“They’ve got some quality players and they play well as a team.

“We can’t take them lightly. We need to bring our best.”

New Zealand toured Australia four years ago but lost a three-match Test series 2-0.

Smith said he expected that side, which has since gone to be ranked second in the world, to be a bigger challenge this time around.

“A lot of the players are still there that were here last time, so they’re a few more years experienced,” Smith said.

“They’ve got some really good players. Kane Williamson, their captain, is a terrific batsman and one we’ll have to be really focused on.

Ross Taylor made some big runs here last time. Their bowling attack have been together a while and formed a good partnership. They’re a good side.”

The former Australia captain was full of praise for Williamson, currently ranked behind him on the ICC Test Batsman Rankings.

“He plays the ball incredibly late,” Smith said. “He’s patient. I think we hold the bat similarly. He’s got a closed grip which I like in Test cricket.

“I think it helps playing the ball a bit later. I think he plays it later than anyone else in the world.

“Good eye and loads of time against quick bowling. He’s a quality player and hopefully we can keep him quiet this series.”

New Zealand will be sweating on the fitness of left-arm quick Trent Boult who missed the Second Test against England due to a side strain.

Boult has had success against Smith in the past and will relish the pink ball and bowler-friendly conditions in Perth.

“He’s a very good bowler with good skills,” Smith said.

“He’s a left arm bowler that can swing the ball back, anyone that does that at good pace is something you don’t see a lot of.

“He’s got terrific skills and a great record. I know he’s got a bit of a side strain. Maybe he’s a bit underdone but no doubt if he plays, we have to be very watchful.”

Ben somerford
Sports Pundit staff writer
@bensomerford Australian journalist who specialises on all sports, focusing on football, tennis, basketball and racing, having written for global publications including FourFourTwo, AAP, Inside Futbol and many more....

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