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Cricket news - Smith keen on IPL participation if T20 WC is postponed

"Players are doing what we're told, going where we are asked to go and playing whatever is on at that stage."

Steve Smith and his bat have finally been separated, at least for two months. And it's taken a pandemic to come between them. Speaking at the start of pre-season training with his state team, New South Wales, the premier Australian Test batsman revealed how he hadn't "picked up a cricket bat" ever since the Covid-19 outbreak hit the pause button on all live sport around the world. Smith admitted to be in the "best shape in years" coming off the break and also to have used the time to focus on himself following a hectic few months.

"I've just sort of tried to switch off from it a little bit, which I don't do often but focusing on getting myself fit and strong. Feel like I've had a preseason pretty much the last couple of months. Got myself into good shape," he said in Sydney on Monday (June 1).

The only time Smith has even gone near his bat in all this time has been while recording the masterclasses that he's posted on Instagram.He is also well aware that it might be a while before he gets to team up with his bat in a competitive manner. Smith was asked about a number of topics pertaining to when or what context that'll be in, and he flat-batted most of those with similar responses. They ranged from how he "hasn't been thinking about it" to how "it's all up in the air and we'll have to see how it lands".

The batting mainstay did, however, believe that there'll be a number of adjustments that he and every other cricketer will have to make when cricket does return, whether it's to do with fewer support staff members to look for assistance to or the ban on the use of saliva. He believed that in the case of a reduction in the backroom staff, the onus would be on the senior players to take more responsibility.

"It'll be about guys being able to help each other out as well. Particularly senior players being able to maybe take a bit of time off your own game and help someone else out at training or something like that. We'll see what happens. Guys might have to throw more balls at other batters and help the bowlers in certain ways and different things," he said.

Smith though did stand up to an extent in support of the scourge of bowlers around the world in the issue of the fewer means they could employ to shine the ball.

"I've always been one to want a fair contest between bat and ball and if that's taken away, even as a batter, I don't think it's great. Whether they can find other ways with certain things. I actually spit on my hands most balls, and that's how I get my grip. So it might take some adjusting," he said.

Smith, who missed an entire year of cricket owing to the suspension following the ball-tampering scandal, admitted that his fellow cricketers would have missed being in the middle over the last two months and that they'd be "jumping" at the first chance they get to play. He did, however, put the time away into perspective saying cricket seemed pretty "irrelevant" in the face of the disastrous impact of the coronavirus spread around the world.

While he believed that commenting about the status of the T20 WC was "above his paygrade", Smith did say that he would prefer representing his country over playing in a T20 league in an ideal scenario. But he was also keen on going to India for the IPL and donning the Rajasthan Royals colours if the Indian league does take place in the window left vacant by the postponement of the world event.

"When you're playing for your country in the World Cup, that's the pinnacle for one-day or T20 cricket. I'll of course prefer playing in that but if that doesn't happen and the IPL is there and they postpone it then so be it. IPL is also a terrific tournament as a domestic tournament. It's out of everyone's control. Players are doing what we're told, going where we are asked to go and playing whatever is on at that stage," he said.

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