Australian batting icon Steve Smith is disappointed that this season's Indian Premier League will not be played in India but said that moving the tournament to the UAE gives the players a great opportunity to return to action following a long hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The 31-year-old, the captain of the 2008 champions Rajasthan Royals, also felt that adapting to the conditions in the UAE would be paramount if they are to do well in the 13th edition of the competition.
"Guys are gonna be just jumping out of their skin to get into there and play some quality cricket," Smith said during a Q&A session following a private screening of the team's documentary titled Inside Story: A season with Rajasthan Royals.
"It's disappointing that it's not in India, we would have absolutely loved to play there. But to get the tournament up and give everyone a chance to play, it's amazing what has been going behind the scene," he added.
The three-part series chronicles the team's journey in the league last season with behind-the-scenes footage as well as interviews with Smith, England all-round Ben Stokes, Sanju Samson and other players as well as the support staff and team management.
Smith, who was in a league of his own in last year's epic Ashes series, where he aggregated 774 runs in four Tests and seven innings, said adapting to the conditions and especially following a long break will be key.
"The conditions in Dubai can be similar to what you get in India or they could be different. It's about adapting on the run. That's going to be the key message for me and the coaching staff along the way as well," said Smith.
Personally, Smith hasn't played a competitive game since the first ODI against New Zealand at an empty Sydney Cricket Ground on March 13.
"I haven't played a game since February (March 13). Like most of the world, we have also had a shutdown and find our way through the Covid-19 experience, which has been incredibly different for everyone," said Smith, nicknamed 'Smudge.'
Smith will get the chance to play before the IPL when Australia tour England for a bilateral series involving three ODIs and an equal number of T20Is. The T20s will be played on September 4, 6 and 8, while September 10, 12 and 15 are the match days for the ODIs.
Smith will go up against some of his Royals teammates like Stokes, Jos Buttler and Jofra Archer during the bilateral series.
And Smith joked that they should probably save their best for the IPL.
"It will be great to be able to play good competitive cricket against a quality England outfit and also against a few Royals teammates. I hope they don't score too many runs or take too many wickets in that series, they can save that for the IPL," he said.
Meanwhile, all-rounder Riyan Parag said he enjoyed playing under Smith.
"I admire how Smudge backed all the bowlers, especially young players like me. He is a great leader and I enjoyed playing under him," said the 18-year-old from Assam.
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