Tuesday, July 16, 2019 | ePaper
Australia's Steve Smith will come good in World Cup clash against England, says Steve Waugh
Steve Waugh is backing former Australia captain Steve Smith to rise to the occasion when the World Cup holders face England in Thursday's semi-final at Edgbaston.
Smith, who resigned as skipper following the 'Sandpapergate' scandal in March 2018 and also served a year's suspension, has been booed regularly by English crowds during the tournament. Despite scoring three half-centuries earlier in the competition, the 30-year-old has endured a lean spell with the bat lately, mustering just 51 runs in Australia's last four group fixtures.
However, Waugh - who captained Australia to World Cup success in 1999, the last time the tournament was staged in England - expects Smith to play a key role when his side take on the hosts for a place in the final.
"It's the highest honour, leading the boys out on the field and representing Australia," Waugh told Sky Sports News. "When that's taken away, it's going to have some impact.
"You can just see he's struggling to find his form a little bit. But he is a big match player and the one thing about Steve Smith is that every time someone writes him off, he does well.
"So I expect him to do well in the semi-final. He hasn't been at his best and he's an emotional sort of guy, so it will affect him a lot, what's been going on with the crowd noise.
"He seems a bit fidgety at the moment. So he just needs to calm down a little bit, 10 per cent, and he'll score runs.
"I think (fast bowler) Pat Cummins and Smith are the two guys that, if they can lift it in the semi-final, Australia can win the World Cup."
Smith may be promoted to bat at three in place of Usman Khawaja, who was ruled out of the rest of the tournament after picking up a hamstring strain during Australia's 10-run defeat to South Africa on Saturday.
A century stand between David Warner - who was also banned for 12 months for his part in the ball-tampering incident - and wicketkeeper Alex Carey almost snatched victory for the Australians.
Waugh views Carey as imperative to the team's hopes of retaining the trophy, along with left-arm paceman Mitchell Starc, who has spearheaded the attack with 26 wickets, more than any other bowler in the tournament to date.
"We've got quality in the side and Mitchell Starc does lead the way," Waugh added. "He is a match-winner, particularly at the death, bowling those yorkers at 150k per hour. It's very difficult for batsmen to keep them out.
"Look at the last World Cup final (in 2015) - New Zealand tried to take him on and lost a load of wickets, so you've got to be careful against a guy like that.