Steve Smith used to be a sharp catcher in the slips. But that’s in the past. In this series, he has often looked late on the catches, treated proper chances like half-chances, has been standing too upright and surprised at the lack of bounce. Mark Waugh, one of the greatest catchers of all time, dissected Smith’s slip catching, and ended up with “I am going to have a word with him in the morning”.
There was an edge from Axar Patel in the 64th over and Smith lunged low to his right; he didn’t even cup his palms before the ball landed between his hands, and raced to the boundary. Nathan Lyon, the bowler, threw up his arms in frustration.
“It didn’t go quickly, it went quite slowly actually,” Mark Waugh said on Star Sports commentary. “He’s just snatched at thin air to be honest. I think he should have caught that, a fielder of his ability should have caught that.
“He’d be disappointed with that.”
.@akshar2026 scored a clinical momentum-changing knock of 7️⃣4️⃣ as he becomes #TeamIndia‘s Top Performer from the first innings 👌👌
A look at his batting summary ✅#INDvAUS pic.twitter.com/EbwNF60k08
— BCCI (@BCCI) February 18, 2023
It’s been a pattern with Smith over the last three Indian innings, often slow and technically wrong. And when Ashwin glanced a Lyon delivery between Smith’s legs at leg slip to the boundary in the 70th over, Mark Waugh was again on to him.
“I don’t know why our fieldsman are surprised the ball is keeping low,” Waugh said. “He goes upright as the ball is about to be delivered,” Waugh continued. I’m going to go see him in the morning tomorrow before the start of play, to have a little chat to him.”
When Smith dropped Jadeja in the first Test in the final over of the day’s play, Matthew Hayden was surprised.
“What a nightmare this is for a slips fieldsman,” former Australian batter Matthew Hayden said on-air. “Sort of remained unsighted there. Should have made a better effort than that. Concentration factor – second last ball of the day. Bang. Gotta be on!”
Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar also had his say on the matter, “Absolutely, he wasn’t bending low. I don’t think he was expecting the catch to come there.”He further added, “The back isn’t bent and the catch came towards the knee. So that can make the difference. Yes, it’s been a long day. It’s been a tiring day, but the last couple of deliveries is where your concentration is most tested. Tough day for Steve Smith, he’ll feel it. he’s a good catcher.”
Back then, Waugh had said: “It’s like he doesn’t think the ball will come to him, looks away from the game. You have got to read the play. You have got to pretend you are actually batting when you are fielding at first slip to the spinners.”