England desperate to contain Australia’s Steve Smith in men’s Ashes series, Ben Stokes returns

England’s bowlers are making it no secret they are working on ways to keep Australian vice-captain Steve Smith “quiet” following his heroics in the 2019 men’s Ashes series.

The tourists will also be buoyed by Ben Stokes’s performance with the ball in an intra-squad match in Brisbane on Thursday, with the all-rounder taking two wickets in his first playing appearance since July.

Smith starred for Australia in England two years ago in what was his Test return following his 12-month suspension for his role in the 2018 ball-tampering controversy in South Africa.

Against England in 2019, Smith scored a staggering 774 runs from just seven innings at an average of 110.57, with three centuries and as many half-centuries.

He recorded a highest score of 211, his efforts with the bat helping Australia retain the men’s Ashes following a 2-2 series result.

England fast-bowling all-rounder Chris Woakes dismissed Smith a team-high three times during the 2019 series, although this was after the Australian had scored 142, 92 and 80 in the respective innings.

A cricket ball runs away from Australia batsman Steve Smith as he completes a drive.
Smith scored more than 700 runs against England in 2019.(AP: Kirsty Wigglesworth)

Woakes — who averages 28.73 with the ball and 27.78 with the bat from 39 Tests — is in a selection battle to feature in a bowling attack likely to be led by veterans Stuart Broad and Jimmy Anderson.

He said containing Smith was a key priority for the tourists as they prepare for the first Ashes Test starting in Brisbane next Wednesday.

“I’ve bowled at Steve quite a lot, he’s a world-class player and had a lot of success against us and we need to figure out ways to keep him quiet,” Woakes said.

“It’s pretty obvious we have to keep him as quiet as we possibly can and I have got him a few times but he’s probably been on 150 at the time, so would be nice to get him a little earlier.”

Stokes takes part in England tune-up

Woakes fronted up for the England Lions team that was sent in to bat against an apparent full-strength England outfit in the intra-squad up match at Ian Healy Oval on Thursday.

He made 13 with the bat before being dismissed by Stokes, who also claimed the wicket of the England Lions’ top scorer Zac Crawley (45).

An England bowler on his follow through during an Ashes tour warm-up match.
Ben Stokes took two wickets in England’s intra-squad match in Brisbane on Thursday.(AAP: Jono Searle)

Stokes recorded the figures of 2-31 from 10 overs.

Anderson (0-23) and Broad (0-15) went wicketless, with the England Lions reaching 4-226 at stumps.

Stokes had not played any form of cricket since July after taking a mental health break that followed an injury-interrupted season.

His last Test match was in March.

Constant rain washed out the first two days of play, after just 29 overs were possible in last week’s three-day tour match at Wellington Point’s Peter Burge Oval.

The match will continue on Friday.

Australia called off play in its planned intra-squad fixture that was due to be played at Peter Burge Oval, the squad instead completing an indoor nets session at the National Cricket Centre.


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