Sussex have signed premier Australia batter Steve Smith on a short-term deal for three County Championship matches ahead of the 2023 Mens Ashes, which will be held from June 16 at Birmingham.
Smith will be available for selection for Sussex for their trips to Worcestershire (May 4) and Leicestershire (May 11), as well as a home game at The 1st Central County Ground on May 18, against his Australian teammate Marnus Labuschagne’s Glamorgan side.
At Sussex, Smith will be teammates with India’s veteran top-order batter Cheteshwar Pujara, who had earlier agreed to return to Sussex in October 2022 for the 2023 season.
“I am excited about joining Sussex for a few games in May and hopefully making a contribution to a successful season. I am particularly looking forward to working with the younger players in the squad and hoping I can provide some guidance to them,” said Smith in a media release.
After making his international Test debut in 2010, Smith went on to become Australia’s 45th Test captain in 2015, taking over from Michael Clarke. The additional responsibility of captaincy did not impact his ability to score runs, making six centuries in his first eight Tests as captain, propelling him to the number one spot in the ICC Men’s Test Batting rankings.
He has since played 92 Tests for Australia, scoring 8647 runs, including 37 half-centuries and 30 centuries, at an outstanding average of 60.89. As of now, Smith sits in the number two spot in the ICC Men’s Test Batting rankings, as well as second in the ICC’s All-Time Test Rankings, behind the legendary Australian batter Don Bradman.
Rob Andrew, Sussex Cricket CEO, expressed happiness on roping in a batter of Smith’s calibre albeit for a short period at Sussex.
“We are thrilled to have Steve Smith available for our County Championship matches in May. To have arguably the world’s best batter play for Sussex just before an eagerly awaited Ashes Test series is great for us and the County Championship,” Andrew said.
“Our Championship form has not been good enough for a number of years, and under the new direction of head coach Paul Farbrace, we are looking to be positive and ambitious. Being able to attract a player of Steve Smith’s calibre is a massive statement and will be of great benefit to our young homegrown players, particularly our crop of talented young batters,” he added.
Sussex added that they are also continuing their search for an overseas bowler for the upcoming County Championship season, following the news of West Indies fast bowler Jayden Seales’ long-term knee injury.