Steve Smith hits back in furore surrounding 'traitorous' Ashes move

The cricket superstar's career-first foray has been ruffling more than a few feathers.

·5-min read
Pictured here, Aussie cricket star Steve Smith talks at a press conference.
Steve Smith's move to play county cricket in England before the Ashes series has ruffled a few feathers. Pic: Getty

Steve Smith has brushed off the drama around surrounding his career-first foray into English county cricket, after the Aussie better's signing with Sussex ruffled a few feathers before the Ashes series. Smith is raring to get a first taste of English county cricket after "the stars aligned" to give him the chance to play for Sussex ahead of the five-Test Ashes series against England, starting at Edgbaston on June 16.

The 33-year-old will play three games for Sussex in May - starting with a trip to Worcestershire on Thursday - before games at Leicestershire and at home to Glamorgan. Smith will use the cameo stint as an important opportunity to get accustomed to the conditions in England and the Dukes balls that will be used across the Ashes series.

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Naturally, the opportunity to provide Australia's most important batter crucial preparation before the Ashes series has left some England players and fans less than thrilled, with Test skipper Ben Stokes previously airing his reservations. Smith's signing has been pounced on by the British press, with the Daily Mail describing it as "wrong" and many English fans labelled Sussex "traitors" for signing the Aussie batter before the Ashes.

The UK's Telegraph even suggested England's cricket board should consider withholding funds to counties who sign up Aussie players. Asked if he found some of the reaction funny ahead of his debut in English county cricket, Smith said: "A little bit. I've played a lot of cricket in England, it's not like it's foreign territory for me."

The former Australian captain - who stood in as leader in India when Pat Cummins returned home to attend his dying mother - was available after opting out of this year's Indian Premier League. "Particularly coming off the Test series there, I've done that a couple of times and it's very long, having the IPL on the back of it," Smith added.

"I've got a lot of cricket coming up and a window opened up to come and play some county cricket. It's something I've never done and have always wanted to do, so the stars aligned in a way. We are over here for the English summer and it's a good opportunity to play some county cricket, which is something I've wanted to do for a long time. It's going to be a good couple of months. I'm excited.

"I'm just looking forward to getting a few games in here for Sussex where hopefully I can have an impact on some younger players and the team has started really well this year. Hopefully get some good results and help Sussex win some games of cricket."

Sussex coach praises Steve Smith move

Sussex coach, Paul Farbrace, also addressed the furore around Smith's signing after insisting that having a player of his calibre could only be beneficial for the competition. He refuted suggestions the move could be detrimental to England's Ashes hopes.

"The fact people are talking about Championship cricket is only good for the game," said Farbrace. "I've got good friends who think that we're helping Australia to win the Ashes. We're not. I think this is really good for English cricket.

"It was a very easy decision. It's about trying to create this winning mentality and a culture within our set-up that we expect to win."

Steve Smith, pictured here with Sussex ahead of the Ashes in England.
Steve Smith is playing for Sussex ahead of the Ashes in England. Image: Getty

Of his side's chances of winning this summer, Smith added: "England just play tremendous cricket at home all the time. We generally play pretty well at home as well. Anyone who plays at home knows the conditions a lot better.

"It's going to be a terrific summer. Both teams are playing good cricket, different brands of cricket."

Smith's arrival represents a massive coup for Sussex after they finished seventh in Division Two last season. The Aussie's three-match cameo will include away games Worcestershire (on Thursday evening AEDT) and Leicestershire (May 11), and a home fixture against a Glamorgan side featuring Aussie duo Marnus Labuschagne and Michael Neser.

with agencies

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