Mark Waugh believes Steve Smith’s injury is a blessing in disguise for Australia as it will help him stay fresh for the Ashes. The Australian national selector has also criticised the month-long India series, which has prevented numerous top players from playing in the domestic season.
Steve Smith returned home after failing to recover from the shoulder injury sustained during the ODI series against India, leaving David Warner to lead the side in the T20I series. Mark Waugh, however, stated that the return was a blessing in disguise for the Kangaroos who will take on England in the Ashes next month.
The former Aussie Test specialist feels that the players would need more practice with the red ball before they commence the next international series. Speaking to Sky Sports Radio, Waugh said, “Obviously Steve Smith going home might be a blessing in disguise, a bit of a freshen-up. He's got a heavy workload, as do a lot of the players. We'll be right. Those three Shield matches will have us in good stead for the Ashes."
Australia’s domestic tournament, the JLT one-day Cup, has already started and has seen many top players missing out due to international duties. Waugh thinks that the three rounds of the Shield, which have been squeezed in between Australia’s return and the Ashes will be immensely helpful for the build-up for the oldest bilateral Test series of the world.
Terming the schedule as hectic, Waugh said, “Once they get home, they'll have a little break then they'll be back focused on red ball cricket, then the Ashes. The players are pretty much used to it; it's probably more the travelling, flying around… But I think they're coping pretty well.”
Australia have been in India for almost a month and in this period, they have suffered a heavy 4-1 ODI series defeat. However, they have made amends for it in the T20I series, where they are now level at 1-1, with the series finale set to take place in Hyderabad on Friday. After playing eight limited-overs matches, at eight different locations, Australia will head home in a bid to reclaim the Ashes. But Waugh believes that the series was too stretched before the marquee clash.
“It's got to be said, it's not an ideal time to be away from Australia. This series has been a bit spread out. It would have been better probably if it was a week or two shorter."