AUSTRALIAN cricketer Steve Smith proved king of Arundel Castle as the men from Down Under visited the picturesque ground this week.
The two-day Australia A fixture – the first match of their tour of the British Isles – started on Monday when a Darren Lehmann XI took on a Troy Cooley XI. The sides were captained by Test cricketers Brad Haddin and Smith and featured a number of high-quality youngsters, as well as Ashes-preparing stars.
Other top Aussie names such as Moises Henriques, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Ryan Harris, Peter Siddle and James Pattinson were on show but it was Smith who stole the show.
He struck 100 off 104 balls, before retiring on the Monday as his side finished the day on 317-9. On day two, a four-wicket haul from James Pattinson saw the Cooley XI ease to victory after Lehmann’s side finished 93 runs short.
Smith, on his second appearance at Arundel, heaped praise on the ground and exclaimed he would like to come back.
He said: “It’s a beautiful ground. I have played here once before, actually, and I enjoy playing here, it’s a nice place to play. The outfield is lightening fast and it’s a good wicket, I’d like to come back here again.
“The wicket was nice to bat on and it was a beautiful day, so it was great to come out here and play a practice match and the boys are getting what they need out of this game.”
The match is part of the Australian’s tour ahead of The Ashes and, on the aims, Smith said: “Well, hopefully, win every game as a start. I think we have just got to keep looking to become better cricketers and this is a great opportunity to play in different conditions to what we are used to.
“I guess, for our squad, there are different people in different parts of their careers. Some people are preparing for an Ashes squad and some are trying to get into the squad I guess, so it’s just about all players coming together and trying to win cricket games.
“Obviously, for the boys that are preparing, it is going to be a big series coming up and there’s probably no bigger series than an Ashes series.
“All the boys are excited and just getting ready to go and, hopefully, they will be 100 per cent by the time the series comes around.”
Match report and more pictures in this week’s paper.