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‘Steve Smith is Australia’s Virat Kohli’ – Justin Langer

by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

Australia coach Justin Langer likened suspended batsman Steve Smith to India’s Virat Kohli, and said that the former captain’s determination to return to the fold made him feel ‘warm and fuzzy’.

Smith has been doing well in grade cricket and recently addressed his first press conference since that teary-eyed appearance on his return to Australia following the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa. That incident had resulted in 12-month bans for him and David Warner, and a nine-month suspension for Cameron Bancroft.

Smith, whose suspension ends in late March, has set his sights on the 2019 World Cup and the subsequent Ashes series, both in England.

Langer said he watched the press conference and, more importantly, also had a personal interaction with Smith, adding that he can’t wait to have the batsman back in the Australian fold.

“I’ve spoken to him. That’s much more important to me than what I read in the press – that’s with absolute respect – because I hear it straight from the horse’s mouth,” Langer said.

“I think he’s in a very determined place. Obviously, it’s been a really tough time for him. But we can’t wait to see – can’t wait to have him back. [I am] really looking forward to this – he’s [the] Virat Kohli of the Australian cricket team. That’s the truth of it. He’s an outstanding player, he’s been our captain. He’s a fantastic young bloke.

“I know how determined he is to get back and play for Australia. That makes me feel warm and fuzzy, knowing Steve Smith is determined.”

The coach also heaped praise on Bancroft, who is preparing to make his competitive comeback on Australian soil on December 30 for the Perth Scorchers in the Big Bash League.

“You’ve probably read Cameron Bancroft’s letter to himself. That was incredibly courageous, what he wrote, and he’s learnt,” Langer said.

"If you see how he's blossomed, it's unbelievable"

“If you see how he’s blossomed, it’s unbelievable”

“If you see how he’s blossomed, it’s unbelievable – and I’ve known him since he was very young. To see how he’s gone from pretty much, you’d say a boy into a man, from what’s happened, that warms my heart as well.”

Warner too came in for kind words from the coach. “I know Davey Warner is the same. Davey Warner would be training like Rocky Balboa at the moment. They’re very determined to get back into the Australian cricket team. There’s a process. Obviously, it’s going to happen in the next little bit but it’s a pretty exciting time I think.”

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