Steve Smith after he got his century.
Steve Smith after he got his century.

Smith’s secret Ashes practice routine

Steve Smith is free to do as little or as much as he likes during the rest of this week as the once-in-a-generation batsman prepares to return to Lord's, scene of his Test debut and maiden double-ton.

Smith, renowned for marathon net sessions and a pursuit of Don Bradman-like perfection, worked overtime even by his own standards during the days leading up to the Ashes opener.

Having dismantled England's attack with surgical precision, Smith will bypass a tour game in Worcester to enjoy some time off before linking up with the squad in London this weekend.

The intent is to help Smith avoid burnout amid a four-month stretch in England that started with the World Cup.

Justin Langer, keen for Smith to extend the sparkling form that delivered match-winning knocks of 144 and 142 at Edgbaston, has given the world's best batsman no instructions.

But Langer expects Smith will finally put the bat down, something that has rarely happened since he landed in London in May.

"He can hit as many balls as he wants. I don't think he will, because he won't have anyone to throw them to him," Langer said.

"Unless (wife) Dani wants to put some in the bowling machine for him, she has done it before.

Steve Smith has got wife Dani to throw down balls to him before.
Steve Smith has got wife Dani to throw down balls to him before.

"He can prepare however he wants to.

"But he's going to be that tired after this game - physically and mentally - so I'm sure he'll welcome the few days off." The home of cricket was a very happy hunting ground for Smith in 2015, when his superb innings of 215 delivered Australia victory at the iconic venue. Langer admitted he has never seen anything like Smith.

"(Former England batsman) Mark Ramprakash - used to hit more balls (at training) than anyone I've ever seen," he said.

"Smith hits double.

"When he first (made his Test debut in 2010) - (everyone thought) I'm not sure this kid's going to make it. He goes away (and decides) 'I don't want to be a legspinner, I want to be the best batsman in the world'.

"I said during the summer that Virat Kohli is the best player I have ever seen but that (Smith's performance in Birmingham) is just another level."

Langer, like so many pundits and players, ran out of superlatives to describe Smith's two innings in his Test comeback after a year-long ban.

"With all the pressure and everything that is on him, it was not only great skill but enormous character," he said.

"Very brave, unbelievable concentration, unbelievable physical stamina, unbelievable mental stamina.

"They had some interesting tactics for him - (but) he is the best problem solver in the game."

Matthew Wade and Steve Smith after they both made tons in the first Ashes Test.
Matthew Wade and Steve Smith after they both made tons in the first Ashes Test.


While it's hard to see anything changing after the first Test win there might yet be change in the Australian bowling ranks for the Second Test, at Lord's.

James Pattinson and Peter Siddle, picked ahead of Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood, both excelled with bat and ball.

The widespread expectation is that Starc will likely play at Lord's next week in place of Pattinson, and Hazlewood is also in the mix for the second Test but the selection dynamic may now change for a range of reasons, especially given Pattinson only bowled eight overs as England collapsed on day five.

Starc and Hazlewood will both take part in Australia's tour game in Worcester that starts on Wednesday, while the incumbent quicks enjoy a break.

"Hoff's record - (it is) incredible," Langer said, adding Starc was the same.

"What a brilliant problem to have and one we haven't had for a long time.

"It's nice to have that competition."

Could Mitchell Starc do more than carry the drinks?
Could Mitchell Starc do more than carry the drinks?

Pattinson's 27 overs in England's first dig represented his highest workload in a single innings, at any level, since 2014 but he may yet be given the green light to back up.

"We were really nervous after the first innings - that's a lot of overs," Langer said.

"If it blows out to a 50-over game for all of our guys, that starts putting some pressure on their body with the (workload) spikes.

"But they didn't bowl that many overs in the second innings, which is going to give us a really good headache going into the next Test."

Langer declared the Lord's pitch would ultimately dictate the XI that hunts a 2-0 series lead.

"There might be a bit of extra bounce," he said.

Langer heaped praise on Siddle's unheralded role in the victory.

"Siddle was almost the bowler of the game. He was brilliant, that was the best none-for I've ever seen today," he said.