Former England managing director Ashley Giles believes Steve Smith will benefit from playing county cricket in England, but Australia wouldn’t return the favour.
The Australia batter began his three-game LV= County Championship spell with the Sussex away to Worcestershire on Thursday, and is set to feature in this month’s matches against Leicestershire and Glamorgan as well.
Smith was made to wait for his first Sussex knock though as they finished the day 63-1, but he did combine with England bowler Ollie Robinson – a future Ashes opponent – from second slip with a superb catch to dismiss Joe Leach – Robinson’s sixth wicket of a highly impressive performance in which he finished with figures of 7-59.
Smith averages around 60 in 16 Tests he has played in this country, and the right-hander is adamant he is not using this stint with Sussex simply as a tune-up for the five-match series against old rivals England.
However Giles believes the opportunity for one of Australia’s top batsmen to get so used to English conditions ahead of an Ashes summer would not be reciprocated by Australia.
“It’s a good thing for Steve Smith, I don’t know, there are two sides to it,” said Giles speaking at the Bob Willis Fund golf day.
“We want to see these great players play in our County Championship, it brings people in to watch the game, but I can’t see it happening if it was the other way around.
“I don’t see Australia allowing many of our players going to play in their Shield competition before an Ashes series.”
Indeed, ahead of the last Ashes Series during COVID, England played only 50-overs in the country before the Ashes starting with the team quarantining for the majority of the trip.
However, current managing director Rob Key believes it is actually English cricket who will benefit from Smith playing in the county game as players can “learn” about his style of play.
“I have no issue with that whatsoever, I mean how I think, I was so lucky in my career playing with the likes of (Australia players) Steve Waugh, Andrew Symonds, got to know Shane Warne, all these guys I played with in county cricket,” said Key.
“Steve Waugh came for probably a month, at Kent, when I was 21, 22 and that had a huge impression my game and my thinking, how I thought about the game, which stood me in good stead, not as good as I would have liked.
“There will be so much we will gain from having Steve Smith playing county cricket, and actually it doesn’t happen enough where you get great players coming in and adding to your domestic competitions, especially four-day cricket.
“I think there will be someone in that Sussex team, or someone he plays against, and he will take something from it that will be to the benefit of English cricket.”
Watch every match from the men’s and women’s Ashes live on Sky Sports. You can also follow videos and over-by-over text commentary across Sky Sports’ digital platforms. Live coverage of the first Test is live from June 16-20 on Sky Sports Cricket.