England seek to stop Smith Ashes repeat

Australia's Steve Smith dominated England's bowlers in the 2019 Ashes.
Australia's Steve Smith dominated England's bowlers in the 2019 Ashes.

How to prevent a repeat of Steve Smith's 2019 Ashes heroics is front of mind for England's bowlers in the lead-up to the first Test at the Gabba on Wednesday.

But the man that did it best could be on the sidelines, fast-bowling allrounder Chris Woakes in a selection battle to feature in an attack likely to be led by veteran pair Stuart Broad and Jimmy Anderson.

Woakes, who averages 28.7 with the ball and 27.7 with the bat in 39 Tests, was on Thursday named in the England Lions team that was sent in to bat against an apparent full-strength England outfit.

Ollie Robinson bowled first change for England, while a brisk spell from allrounder Ben Stokes showed he'll be fit to feature after five months out of the game to care for his mental health.

Smith scored more than a third of Australia's runs in the four Tests he played in England in 2019, his 774 runs the fifth-highest Ashes haul of all time.

Woakes dismissed him a team-high three times - albeit when he had scored 142, 92 and 80 - but did so in 135 balls bowled at him that cost just 65 runs.

Broad's eight Test dismissals of Smith is a world best, but his two in the 2019 series came at a rate of 70 runs per hundred balls while spearhead Jofra Archer had no luck in the 164 balls he delivered across the series.

Anderson didn't feature in the series, while Stokes and spinner Jack Leach managed one Smith dismissal for 224 runs combined.

"I've bowled at Steve quite a lot, he's a world class player and had a lot of success against us and we need to figure out ways to keep him quiet," Woakes said.

"It's pretty obvious we have to keep him as quiet as we possibly can and I have got him a few times but he's probably been on 150 at the time, so would be nice to get him a little earlier."

Since that remarkable tour Smith has averaged about 20 runs less than his career average of 61.80 in nine Tests against Pakistan, New Zealand and India.

Woakes said England's well-stocked support staff had been scouring the tape to see if it offered any hints.

And he expects the procured knowledge of his veteran quicks will also help them adjust to Australian conditions and the Kookaburra ball.

"The more you play in these foreign conditions, the better you're going to be for the experience," Woakes said in reference to Broad, 35 and Anderson, 39.

"They're still very much at the peak of their powers and can do incredibly well for this team.

"We're always looking at new and old footage to work out plans to certain players, but we're going to have to take 20 wickets to win Test matches."

Australian Associated Press