Smith out to prove his ranking correct

Australia

Australia batsman Steve Smith is the number one Test batsman in the world heading into the Ashes, but many England players, current and former, have said they don't believe that to be the case, and Smith is out to prove he is.

Smith is tipped to be the top run-getter over the next two months, having scored a string of centuries this year in all formats. While neutrals and Aussies rate him highly, Smith says Ian Bell and Kevin Pietersen were his chief critics during the Ashes in 2013.

England won that series at home, and Smith was largely considered a poor Ponting substitute, but since then he has solidified the technique he was mocked about, and wants to show KP, Swann, Broad et al how good he is.

Smith said: "I remember Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell getting into me quite a bit. I don't think they really rated the way I played. But maybe I've changed their views now perhaps a little bit.

"When I came back into that side (in 2013) I'd played two Tests since I'd been back in the side and they were both in India, so it was different conditions coming over here against the Dukes ball.

"I'd never had any real success against England before, so now they might view me a little bit differently. People might say my technique's a little bit different. I don't see it that way; I think all my fundamentals are all the same.

"The thing for me is my defence: as long as my defence is in good order then I feel the rest of my game can expand from there. Particularly over here I think your defence is key against the newer ball."

One of the things he has changed is how far he moves across his stumps, having recognised the flaw earlier this year and adjusting where he takes his guard and how he moves his feet.

He added: "I got bowled around my legs in the warm-up game against India in the World Cup in Adelaide. I was going too far across my stumps. I was taking leg stump guard at that point, I now take about an inch or so outside leg stump, so I'm stepping to where I want to.

"I haven't looked at it and said 'this is what I'm looking for'. I don't think it is ever finished. You want to keep getting better every day. I go back and look at footage quite a bit, make sure I'm doing certain things I want to be doing.

"I haven't got to a point where I say 'this is the perfect way to do things'. When you're in good form and hitting the ball well you want to keep playing as much as you can and not have too much of a break.

"That's how I think about it mentally. If I have a break I might come back and there may be a few things that aren't quite right so it's been nice when I'm on a run of form to continue playing and try to maintain it."

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