Australia coach Justin Langer has said that Steve Smith is in the “best physical condition of his life.” Smith showed ominous form in Australia’s practice matches against New Zealand scoring an unbeaten 91 on Friday to lead Australia to victory. This was after he had scored an unbeaten 89 off 77 balls in the previous match. Langer said one of Smith’s goals when he started serving his one-year ban following the 2018 Newlands ball tampering scandal was to return to the squad in better physical shape. The 48-year-old former opener said that Smith has certainly done that in his time out. “I think his skin folds are the lowest they’ve ever been and they’re talking elite level,” Langer told SEN. “I certainly slept a lot better last night. It warmed my heart to be honest. I actually watched him on the weekend, he had a nets session on Sunday night and I was sitting with a couple of coaches and I just said ‘How good is this kid’.”

Langer said that Smith’s innings in the second practice match was a “tutorial in batting.” He also stated that David Warner, who is also returning to the squad after a one-year ban has done the same. Both players had recently undergone elbow surgery with Smith’s being a more serious case than Warner’s. “They’re in pretty good shape, they’re not throwing like Nathan Coulter-Nile or Jason Behrendorff at the moment or Glenn Maxwell, but they’re certainly working their way up to it and that’s good for us,” said Langer.

While Warner was his typical ballistic self while playing for Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Indian Premier League, he was not able to translate that form into the practice matches. In the three games he scored 39, 0 and 2 with the first score coming when he went in one down.