Steve Smith is the best batsman in the world and can work out any challenges.
So says England’s new coach Trevor Bayliss, who played a major role in Smith’s development as mentor of NSW and the Sydney Sixers.
Such words could be viewed as another attempt to pile pressure on Smith, who has been sternly critiqued by Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann since landing in London.
But only if they had come from someone else.
Bayliss is a no-nonsense operator and was refreshingly honest when asked about his former charge at England’s squad announcement.
“He’s the type of player I think that, faced with any challenges, he will be able to work it out,” Bayliss said of Smith, offering a remarkably different take than Broad and Swann.
“He’s now the world’s best batter.
“It will be a case of hopefully getting him into that position where he does have to work something else out and then hopefully staying one step ahead of him.”
Bayliss had no doubts Smith will be up to the challenge of batting at first drop in the Ashes, which starts in Cardiff on Wednesday.
“We tried to get him to bat No.3 two seasons ago,” the ex-Blues coach explained.
“I thought that batting him at No.3 in four-day cricket for NSW would set him up well, whether he was batting at five or six for Australia.
“Then the Australian players came back and those things changed.
“We all know his technique is not out of the textbook but he’s a competitor.
“He reads the game and he works out a way with his technique to score runs.”
Bayliss described the past four weeks as a whirlwind, revealing he was shocked to be approached by the England and Wales Cricket Board.
Daughter Emma is in her final year of high school and taking the job was no easy decision.
The prospect of coaching against close friends wasn’t a concern for the 52-year-old, who previously served as head coach of Sri Lanka.
“The guys I do know in the Australian team will understand it,” he said.
“It’s a little bit like playing in the backyard years ago, playing against your mates and your brothers.
“It was the toughest competition but at the end of the day you went off together and with that respect, and I’m sure that will happen.”
Bayliss suggested his charges should expect sledging and treat it as a mark of respect.
“They’re actually letting you know you’re a good player and they want to take your mind off the job you’re trying to do,” he said.