Ashes 2019: Hughes says England should pray for Smith wicket

By Sports Desk August 13, 2019

Merv Hughes has a modicum of sympathy for England's bowlers as they contemplate how to stop Australia's Steve Smith piling on the runs at Lord's.

Yet former Australia paceman Hughes loved every minute of watching Smith make Joe Root's side toil in the first Ashes Test at Edgbaston, when the former captain made a century in both innings.

Smith was named man of the match after scoring a magnificent 144 in the first innings and 142 in his second visit to the crease, inspiring the tourists to a crushing 251-run victory in his first Test since serving a one-year ban for his part in the ball-tampering scandal.

So just how do you go about dismissing a batsman in such imperious form? Hughes revealed that was a conundrum he faced far more times than he would have liked against some of the all-time greats, and sometimes it was a case of praying for a prized wicket.

Asked if there were certain batsman that used to leave him scatching his head, the legendary quick told Omnisport: "Oh mate, I can name them: Sunil Gavaskar, Viv Richards, Brian Lara and Sachin Tendulkar.

"When you are bowling to these sort of guys, you know you have to be on top of your game, your margin of error is going to be very slight.

"In Australia's second innings [at Edgbaston] the wicket was doing enough to give the bowlers hope that something was going to happen, but you've just got to bowl in the right areas.

"Steve Smith showed he has the capacity to keep a good ball out, he has solid defence and attacks the right ball. As a bowler, it's tough. I sit there and look at how I'd bowl at different batsmen and Smith, you just scratch your head.

"You bowl outside off stump and he walks across and takes it down the leg side, you bowl a little bit full and he drives you, a little bit short, he cuts.

"If you've got a batsman who can score all around the wicket with a very tight defence, the margin for error is so slight.

"As a bowler, you are hoping and praying you get to Lord's and you have a good day. Get him to nick one early on maybe, then it's a different game. The big thing is you don't give up hope."

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