Rain tonic for Smith’s stress

Mercury (Hobart) - - CRICKET - BEN HORNE

AUS­TRALIA is in the midst of one of its worst ever droughts, but there is one place where the sound of rain is cer­tain next week … in Steve Smith’s hotel room.

The run-scor­ing su­per­star, pic­tured, ad­mits a new life free of the pres­sures of Test cap­taincy has done noth­ing to cure his bat­tles with in­som­nia, with his pow­ers of con­cen­tra­tion so all-en­com­pass­ing, it can dou­ble as a curse.

Smith re­veals his mind explodes into such vivid de­tail as he vi­su­alises his next in­nings that he can’t switch it off.

The 30-year-old (pic­tured) has turned to the pit­ter-pat­ter of rain­drops to try to break the sleep­less nights that can ul­ti­mately ex­haust him dur­ing Test matches.

“Be­fore I bat I’m still pretty or­di­nary. I’m work­ing on a few dif­fer­ent tech­niques to get bet­ter. I’ve been lis­ten­ing to some­thing that I think has ac­tu­ally helped a bit, which is lis­ten­ing to the rain app on my phone,” Smith said.

“That seems to have made a bit of a dif­fer­ence and I do that quite a lot now. I just find it hard to switch my brain off. It’s all to do with do­ing my vi­su­al­i­sa­tion: watch­ing bowlers run­ning in at me. Where I’m hit­ting them, and things like that. It’s all pos­i­tive, but I wish I could just turn it off, if that makes sense.”

Cricket may have never seen any­thing to match Smith’s ex­tra­or­di­nary pow­ers of con­cen­tra­tion.

But it can come at a cost. By the end of the Ashes, af­ter he had spent the ma­jor­ity of four Test matches out in the mid­dle, Smith fell phys­i­cally ill as a re­sult of the phys­i­cal and men­tal drain.

The bat­ting king re­vealed his all-or-noth­ing per­son­al­ity makes it im­pos­si­ble for his to­tal in­vest­ment in the game to be scaled back.

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