Justin Langer’s strange fix for ending Steve Smith’s career-worst slump in SCG Test

As Steve Smith searches for the form that could help Australia seize control of their Test series against India, coach Justin Langer can’t help but feel a touch superfluous.

“How do you coach Steve? I don’t coach Steve Smith. Steve Smith coaches himself and I’m sure he’s going to work it out,” Langer said on Tuesday.

The struggles of Australia’s top six this summer have been well documented but few have been as glaring as the unprecedented slump that Smith, formerly the world’s best batsman, is mired in.

The right-hander is averaging 3.33 from four knocks against India.

Smith has never averaged less than 20 in a series during his decorated 75-Test career; and that low came from a sample size of just two innings against Pakistan in 2019-20.

The former captain looked set for a big summer after celebrating consecutive ODI tons against Virat Kohli’s side but has struggled to score freely in the opening half of the Test series, admitting he let offspinner Ravichandran Ashwin dictate terms.

Langer isn’t worried as his team prepares for a decisive third Test that comes with the series squared at 1-1.

“Imagine how good we’ll be when he does starting batting well. That’s how I look at it,” he said.

Steve Smith is averaging a career-worst 3.33 in the current Test series against India. Credit: Getty

“He hasn’t had the best of series so far obviously, he’ll be the first to admit that.

“What I know about great players is the longer they miss out, the sooner it is that they’re coming good again. So that puts a big smile on my face.

“We know what a great problem solver he is, what a great player he is … I can’t wait to watch him bat this Test, the next Test, and hopefully for as long as I am coach.”

Smith started the first Test under an injury cloud, missing Australia’s main training session because of a sore back, but is enjoying trademark marathon net sessions again.

Justin Langer keeps a watchful eye over an Australian net session.
Justin Langer keeps a watchful eye over an Australian net session. Credit: Getty

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