Smith can't see merit in county debate

Steve Smith claims he doesn't understand the debate in England around his county cricket stint, adamant his time with Sussex will make little difference to his Ashes campaign.

Smith has inked a short-term deal to play three matches for Sussex ahead of this year's Ashes, a situation met with criticism from the likes of England captain Ben Stokes.

Included in Smith's contract for May will be trips to Worcestershire and Leicestershire, as well as a home fixture against Australian teammate Marnus Labuschagne's Glamorgan.

He could also find himself facing England pacer Ollie Robinson, who plays for Sussex, in the nets.

Another Sussex quick, Jofra Archer, who famously hit Smith in the helmet at Lord's in the 2019 series, is due to be away playing in the IPL.

Smith was Australia's best player when they retained the Ashes in England in 2019, scoring 774 runs at an average of 110.57.

But the 33-year-old is quick to point out that came off the back of white-ball cricket in the World Cup without any time in the county competition.

Asked if he could understand the debate in English cricket about why they should be helping Smith with an extra hit before the Ashes, the former captain said he could not.

"I have played a lot over there, I don't think it is going to change too much," Smith said.

"I am just going to play some cricket and have some fun. I don't think it makes a real difference."

Smith also argued his time could also benefit young cricketers at Sussex.

"I was in contact with Paul Farbrace last night, the head of cricket at Sussex," Smith said.

"They are excited to have me over for a few games and hopefully I can spend some time with some of their young batters and mentor them and share my experience with them.

"I'm looking forward to the next six months. India and the Ashes are the two biggest hurdles as an Australian cricketer.

"To have a little bit of a break after India and get some games in before the Ashes should be good fun."

Smith's preparations for England will be in contrast to next month's tour of India.

Smith and other Australian players are featuring in the BBL and will enter the first Test in Nagpur on February 9 without an official warm-up match.

"The last time we went to India I am pretty sure we had a green top (for the warm-up game), which wasn't the ideal preparation for that Test match we played (on a spinning wicket) in Pune," Smith said.

"We know what we need to do to prepare. We have some time to work on things we want to work on in the nets and I am sure we will have centre-wickets and whatnot."