New Zealand's Neil Wagner has taken Steve Smith’s wicket in four innings from four this series.
New Zealand's Neil Wagner has taken Steve Smith’s wicket in four innings from four this series.

‘Bring it on’: Smith happy to take Wagner hits for the team

A BATTERED and bruised Steve Smith has vowed to take another Bodyline-style beating for his team, with Kiwi quick Neil Wagner promising another short-ball onslaught at the SCG.

In an exclusive interview with The Daily Telegraph, the former Australian captain dared New Zealand to continue the "negative tactic'' that has had Wagner attacking Smith with an unrelenting barrage of bouncers.

Playing his first Test at the SCG since the ban that cost him his captaincy, Smith declared he would "wear out'' Wagner if the Kiwis ignored "better options'' to blast his body.

"I have no doubt I will get some more this week,'' Smith said.

"But hopefully I can deal with it and get a big score. I have worn a couple. I have a bruise or two on my body. But it is okay. I don't mind at all."

Wagner has sparked cricket's newest one-on-one rivalry by claiming Smith's wicket in all four innings this series while conceding just 22 runs.

Smith denies Neil Wagner has his measure.
Smith denies Neil Wagner has his measure.

CricViz statistics reveal a staggering 75 per cent of his 116 deliveries to Smith have been short.

"Usually with the short stuff people stop after a few overs," Smith said, "but Wagner has kept on coming and coming.

"That is their tactic and I am happy with that because we are 2-0 up and playing good cricket.

"If they want to play like that then fine. They are bowling the short stuff when there are better options, particularly on that first day in Melbourne, so they can go for it.''

After facing 240 balls to score a first-innings 85 in Melbourne, Smith claimed his gritty game of survival had helped set up Australia's emphatic four-day win.

"I am wearing them down by making them bowl lots of balls," he said.

"Some of the other guys have found it a little easier to score (after his innings) and I have been involved in some partnerships, which is the main thing.

"We have played some good cricket this summer and have won every game, so we are doing something right.''

Smith denied Wagner had his measure and said he was happy to hang tough.

"I have gotten out a few times in the second innings while trying to push the game forward," Smith said.

Wagner’s short-ball assault is
Wagner’s short-ball assault is "a negative tactic", according to Smith.

"Also in the first innings of the Perth game. But it has been a bit different for me, particularly with Wagner's left arm angle and the fields they have set.

"They (the fields) are a bit funky and a little bit different. Obviously, I faced 240 balls in the first innings in Melbourne and the majority of those were short balls. I am not too worried about that."

The run-scoring machine claimed the bid to blunt him had backfired by allowing other Australians to score.

"They have bowled quite negatively at times and not allowed me to score," Smith said.

"It is pretty hard to take it on with the fields they are setting at the moment. There aren't too many gaps.

"We saw Tim (Paine) take it on and have some success and I think you can afford to do that when you are 5-315. If you are 2-80 it doesn't look that great. You have to tough it out and get through it."

After failing to score a century this summer, Smith warned he was ready to launch an Ashes-style attack in the dead-rubber Test.

"I haven't got as many runs as I would like this summer,'' he said.

"But the situations we have been in haven't catered for big runs at times. I am feeling good and hoping to get some runs on my home ground.''

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