Smith not feeling the pressure

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Since the 2013-14 series, Smith has gone on to plunder almost 1,500 Test runs, with half-a-dozen hundreds.

The New South Wales batsman has certainly come a long way from the newcomer whose staying power at the highest level was questioned – although that still did not stop former England spinner Graham Swann firing a couple of pre-Ashes barbs his way earlier in the summer.

Smith met those head on with a century in the opening tour match against Kent at Canterbury.

And Australia’s vice-captain is determined to let his consistency with the bat this summer provide all the answers.

“I don’t feel like there is any extra pressure at all,” said Smith, who was rested for Australia’s final warm-up at Essex ahead of the first Investec Ashes Test in Cardiff on July 8.

“It is just about going out there and doing the same things I have been doing, not letting any of those external things in, just watching the ball and trying to score runs. Everything else will take care of itself.”

That, of course, does not mean Smith is about to rest on his laurels.

“My game has developed a lot over the last couple of years, and that has happened through a lot of hard work,” he said. “It is just about trying to improve every day.”

Smith is not concerned by rankings either.

“I guess it’s nice to be recognised in that way at the moment, but it doesn’t bother me too much,” he said.

“For me it is just about making sure I am going out there and scoring runs, putting in Australia in positions to win matches.”

Smith believes it is the small details which have for him made the biggest difference.

“When I played in Ashes in 2010-11, my technique probably wasn’t up to it, I was probably playing at balls I didn’t need to be,” he recalled.

“I looked at a bit of footage, what I needed to improve. Since then my technique has tightened up a lot and my general mind-set around batting and batting long periods has certainly changed.

“I got rid of a tap that I used to have, just before the bowler bowled to me. I was getting myself too high, my balance was out, my stroke-play was out, everything was out of sync, so I am a lot more still at the crease now.

“It is about being patient, making sure I am leaving the ball well.

“I know I have got an attacking game and as long as my defence is in order, I am pretty confident I can score runs.”

Smith is happy enough coming in at number three, but knows that things will be somewhat different in the heat of an Ashes battle during an English summer.

“It is probably one of the harder places in the world to bat against the new ball,” said Smith, whose mother is from Kent and he had a spell in their second XI during 2007.

“I am going to have to make sure my game is ready to go.

“I feel like it is at the moment, so hopefully I can be successful over here.”