Michael Vaughan tells England how to target Australia's Steve Smith in the Ashes

Michael Vaughan has explained how England should target Steve Smith during the upcoming Ashes series and says the tourists must frustrate the Australia superstar to stand a chance of reclaiming the urn.

Smith has amassed 1,251 runs across ten Ashes innings, which is the most of any player in history, surpassing Sir Don Bradman’s tally of 1,236 between 1937 and 1946.

The 32-year-old averaged 137 in the last home Ashes, scoring a double century, two hundreds and two fifties in seven innings, and made three more tons in the 2019 series, which ended 2-2.

Smith was named as Australia’s vice-captain for the Ashes following Tim Paine’s resignation – fast bowler Pat Cummins will lead the side – and Vaughan says England must stop Smith from ‘getting going’ to compete with Australia in the five-match Test series.

‘When Steve Smith got 100 at Edgbaston in his comeback Test in 2019, he was magnificent but his first 30 or 40 balls he hardly scored because England bowled so well to him – he could have been out any time,’ Vaughan told the Daily Telegraph.

‘On or around off stump, with the ball either nipping in or going away is the way to go to Smith. It’s the way to go to anyone.

‘Once Smith’s in, I think bowling short to him is a good option. We saw Neil Wagner do that well for New Zealand in 2019/20.

‘But if we get to plans D and E, England are struggling. If Smith gets to 50 he generally goes on to get big hundreds. England have got to try and restrict him with dots and maidens and really stop him getting going. 

‘Smith’s record against left-arm spin isn’t brilliant but England should still attack him with their best pace bowlers early on.

‘In Australia, Jack Leach is the kind of bowler you’re looking at holding an end, particularly in the first innings. I wouldn’t have Leach as my principle thought process of how to get Smith out early.’

While the last Ashes series ended in a 2-2 draw, England are huge underdogs ahead of this contest having lost 9-0 across the last two series in Australia.

Australia boast a brilliant record at the Gabba, the venue for the opening Test, and Joe Root insists avoiding defeat in Brisbane would give England a ‘great opportunity’ in the Ashes.

‘Avoiding defeat would be a brilliant start to the series, absolutely,’ Root said. ‘In many respects we’ve got nothing to lose coming here for this series.

‘I don’t think avoiding defeat will define the series but it’ll certainly put us in a really strong position and give us a great opportunity moving forward into the rest of it.

‘But ultimately we’ve just got to concentrate on what’s right in front of us right now and starting the Test match well, getting into the series and managing everything else that goes around an Ashes first morning and taking the game from there.

‘We’ve got a great chance in the circumstances that we find ourselves in to come and do something very special and we should take great confidence from that going into it.’

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