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Smith pushes for rule reform, urges intervention

February 29, 2024 13:00 IST

IMAGE: Steve Smith urged the authorities to intervene. Photograph: Andrew Boyers/Reuters

Australian batting star Steve Smith has said that the cricketing authorities should urgently address the issue of pacers persistently bowling bouncers to a leg side field, as it restricts a batter's ability to hit the ball "anywhere in front of the wicket".

The former Australia captain, who is playing the opening Test against New Zealand in Wellington, added a bowler should be allowed just one or two such deliveries, after which he should be warned or the delivery be called a wide.


"I think there could be some slight rule changes in terms of balls going down the leg side when you set that field.

"You really can't hit the ball anywhere in front of the wicket really, and I feel like it is almost like when a (left-arm) spinner comes over the wicket and they get the warning down the leg side and then they start getting 'wided'," Smith was quoted as saying by Sydney Morning Herald.

"If you're bowling balls consistently in that area down leg, it should be a similar ruling to the spinner if that makes sense. Basically bowl one or two, then get a warning and then get wides called," he added.

Smith, who made a 31 in Australia's first innings on the opening day of the Test in Wellington as Australia ended day one at 279/9, added that if the ball is drifting too much down leg, it's impossible for a batter to play any kind of stroke.

"To have those catchers (fielders) there in position, it can be challenging for sure. The only thing I'd like to see is if you get too much down leg, you can't really score anywhere else, and all the fielders are there. That would be the only change I wouldn't mind seeing," added Smith.

Smith has found himself getting bogged down by pace bowlers over the years as they use the tactic to stop the flow of runs, or force him to play a hook shot in frustration to one of the fielders.

Smith praised New Zealand pace bowler Neil Wagner, who announced his retirement from Test cricket on Tuesday, for his accuracy.

"Ultimately it is a good skill what Neil's been able to do, the way he can get the ball between throat and chest height consistently, not bowl his two (bouncers) for the over and just carry on doing it," Smith said.

"It's a good skill and it can be challenging, particularly for guys that are pullers of the ball."

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