Australia’s Steven Smith said he wanted to let his bat “do the talking” after the world’s number one ranked Test batsman opened his Ashes tour account with a century against Kent on Friday.
Former England off-spinner Graeme Swann recently questioned how Smith, who has scored five hundreds in his last six Tests, would fare in English conditions.
“I still don’t think he’s got a great technique,” Swann said. “I don’t think he’ll score runs at three if it’s swinging.”
Smith’s response was to make 111 before retiring out as Australia piled up 507 for eight declared in the first innings of their tour opener against county strugglers Kent at the Spitfire St Lawrence ground on Friday’s second day of a scheduled four.
Smith, who starred in Australia’s recent 2-0 Test series win in the Caribbean, told reporters after stumps: “It is nice to get a hundred, but for me the most important thing was to spend some time in the middle, to try to get used to the English conditions which are a bit different to the West Indies and back home.”
As for Swann’s comments, the 26-year-old Smith said: “That does not really bother me. It is pre-Ashes and a little bit of banter.
"I am happy for him to say whatever he likes, and hopefully I can just continue to let my bat do the talking.”
New South Wales all-rounder Smith, who originally made his name as a leg-spinner, represented Kent 2nd XI as a teenager during a 2007 season where he also played for local club side Sevenoaks Vine.
“My mum is from Kent,” said Smith. “I played a little bit of club cricket at Sevenoaks Vine in ‘07, which was really enjoyable and I think it helped my game in the long run as well.”
But he added there was never any question of him being tempted into an international career with England while he was at Kent.
“Not at Kent, no…I played a bit of cricket at Surrey, and I think they might have been trying to get me along (to England) but I think I made a wise decision to play back home,” Smith said.
- 'Serious bowler’ -
At stumps, Kent were 203 for five, with fast bowler Mitchell Johnson – whom Swann has suggested may not even be in Australia’s side come the first Test in Cardiff on July 8 – taking three for 42 in 13 fiery overs.
“I thought he bowled really well,” said Smith of paceman Johnson, who took 37 wickets during Australia’s 5-0 Ashes whitewash of England in 2013/14.
“He showed good pace and aggression, and I think that is what we can expect a lot of during this Ashes series,” added Smith.
Kent, bottom of the Second Division of the County Championship, would have been left in an even weaker position but for former England batsman Rob Key’s innings of 87.
“I enjoyed it, it has been a while,” said the 36-year-old Key, who played the last of his 15 Tests against South Africa in 2005.
“But when you go on a proper wicket against a proper attack, it’s nice to show that I can still go out there and play a few shots,” added Key, who holed out trying to slog leg-spinner Fawad Ahmed.
“For a large part of that I thought, 'there is no way I get paid enough to be facing him (Johnson)’.
"He is a different level. The pace he has, he gets the odd one to swing,” explained Key.
“That bloke is a serious bowler. He can intimidate you but he can also move the ball around a little bit. He’s tough.”