Australia captain Steve Smith to persevere through back injury

(Photo: Getty Images)

By Adam Ellis

You would think averaging 151 this series may have taken its toll on Steve Smith but the Australia captain has said he will play in the fifth and final Ashes Test of the series.

The 28-year-old has been playing in the nets with a stiff back and shrugged off any suggestion his fitness may be in doubt.

“A little bit stiff but nothing I haven’t dealt with before,” Smith said at a press conference ahead of Wednesday’s day one action.

“I’ll have a good hit today, a catch, and I’ll be fine tomorrow.”

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It was in Sydney during the last Ashes series that Steve Smith emboldened his captaincy credentials by hitting England for 115 in the first innings, as Michael Clarke bowed out.

This time round, Smith’s performances have drawn parallels with Don Bradman through his three centuries and seemingly undismissable batting. Spending a total of 30 hours and 58 minutes  (1,858 minutes) at the crease.

By comparison, Joe Root has batted for a total of 641 minutes having played two more innings than his counterpart.

Root and the England selectors have named Mason Crane in their squad for the fifth Test with Chris Woakes ruled out with a side strain.

Smith revealed Australia are unlikely to go down the same route despite recalling Ashton Agar to the Test squad after Mitchell Starc showed promising signs he has recovered from the heel injury that ruled him out of the Melbourne Test.

“Starcy has pulled up pretty well this morning and he says he’s ready to go. I guess that’s a good indication,” Smith said of Starc, who is the leading wicket-taker of the series with 19.

“I’d say we’ll probably opt for just the one spinner. Nathan’s done a terrific job throughout this series and I’d say we’ll go down that route.”

Australia squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Cameron Bancroft, Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Mitchell Marsh, Tim Paine (wk), Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood.

England squad: Alastair Cook, Mark Stoneman, James Vince, Joe Root (c), Dawid Malan, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Moeen Ali, Tom Curran, Mason Crane, Stuart Broad, Jimmy Anderson

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