Far from the packed stands of the Sawai Man Singh Stadium in Jaipur that cheer for him every summer, this year’s Indian Premier League will be held in a foreign land, but Rajasthan Royals skipper Steve Smith is relieved cricket has resumed after the prolonged break forced by the pandemic.
His last game was on March 13 when Australia faced New Zealand in an ODI at Sydney. The former Australia skipper will return to action in a limited-overs series in England, but his thoughts are already on IPL, which will be played in the United Arab Emirates from September 19 to November 8.
“It will be great to play some cricket. Like most of the world we are also in sort of shutdown. We also had to find a way through this Covid experience, which has been incredibly difficult for everyone,” Smith said in a media interaction on Thursday after a special screening of “Inside Story: A season with Rajasthan Royals”, a documentary on the team’s tough 2019 season when they ended seventh.
The last edition was unfinished business for Smith. He took over as captain from Ajinkya Rahane mid-season and had to leave for the World Cup with a few matches remaining. The wait for a reunion with fellow Royals has been long this time. In the limited-overs tour of England, Smith will face RR teammates Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer and Jos Buttler, who all featured in the Test series win over West Indies at home.
“It will be great to play some compelling cricket against a quality England outfit. A few of my Royals teammates are there. Hopefully they don’t score too many runs or take wickets in that series and save that for IPL,” he said.
“It will be difficult for anyone being away from their loved ones for an extended period. You kind of get used to it playing international cricket. You do spend a long time apart. You find a way to make it work,” Smith said.
“A lot of people haven’t played any cricket, or have little games under their belt. So, it’s sort of an even contest. Everybody is going in with the same sort of preparation. It has been incredibly difficult this time. Guys are trying to get their cricket fixtures any way they can.