Ashes rival's telling insight into 'strange' Steve Smith

Steve Smith's unrelenting pursuit of perfection is often deemed bizarre by observers. Pic: Getty

England allrounder Ben Stokes considers Steve Smith a "genius" but does not think the Australian's intense batting approach would work for him.

Smith has admitted to shadow-batting even in the shower and Australia's top order mainstay often needs to be told by team management to go easy in net sessions to prevent burnout.

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Having shared a dressing room with Smith for the Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League (IPL), Stokes has observed how the Aussie star approaches his craft.

The England ace admits that while being impressed by the consummate professional that Smith is, he's also amused by the one-of-a-kind star’s peculiar traits.

"He's still strange to play against and he's still strange to play with, and the best thing about it is that he admits it," Stokes said in a video chat for his IPL franchise.

"But I feel to be a genius you have to be a bit strange and you know he's certainly both."

Ben Stokes recognises the 'genius' in 'strange' Steve Smith. Pic: Getty

A prolific Smith, who averages 62.8 in Test cricket, helped Australia retain the Ashes last year, confirming his stature as one of the premier batsmen of his era.

"Even though he plays for Australia ... you've just got to hold your hands up sometimes to players like that and go 'yeah you're on a different level when it comes to batting'," said the explosive allrounder.

Stokes himself played some memorable knocks last year, including in the final of the World Cup and the Headingley test against Australia, but does not think he could be as obsessed with batting as Smith.

"I could never be like that, personally, I could not think about cricket in the way that he does when it comes to batting," he added.

"You know obviously he's on all the time, but that's why he averages 60 whatever he does in Test cricket.”

Usman Khawaja left off Cricket Australia list

Meantime, Marnus Labuschagne and Joe Burns have been included in Cricket Australia's contract list, with out-of-favour veteran Usman Khawaja headlining six expected omissions.

Khawaja and Marcus Harris both haven't played for Australia since last year's Ashes tour and lost their national contracts.

Nathan Coulter-Nile, Peter Handscomb, Shaun Marsh and Marcus Stoinis were also axed from the list, having been overlooked by selectors since featuring in last year's one-day World Cup.

Burns, who was recalled at the start of the previous home summer, has been elevated to the list alongside fellow Test batsmen Labuschagne and Matthew Wade.

Allrounder Mitch Marsh, paceman Kane Richardson and spinner Ashton Agar have also been given deals after being left off the original 2019-20 list.

Usman Khawaja may find it hard to win back selection for Australia after not being offered a new CA contract. Pic: Getty

The 33-year-old Khawaja, who was Australia's most important batsman during Warner and Steve Smith's suspension, hasn't come close to national selection since being dropped and is seemingly unlikely to add to his 44 Tests and 40 ODIs.

Cricket Australia 2020-21 contract list: Ashton Agar, Joe Burns, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins, Aaron Finch, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitch Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Tim Paine, James Pattinson, Jhye Richardson, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Adam Zampa.

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with agencies