Cricket-Smith will skip T20 World Cup if needed to be fit for Ashes

FILE PHOTO: Cricket - Third Twenty20 International - Australia v India - Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney, Australia - December 8, 2020 Australia's Steve Smith walks off dejected after losing his wicket off the bowling of India's Washington Sundar REUTERS/Loren Elliott

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia batting spearhead Steve Smith is hopeful of recovering in time from an elbow injury for this year's Twenty20 World Cup but says he will skip the tournament if needed to be fully fit for the team's Ashes defence against England at home.

Former captain Smith was ruled out of Australia's limited-overs tour of the West Indies and Bangladesh with a left elbow injury, with the team scheduled to play five T20 and three one-day internationals in the Caribbean this month followed by five T20 matches in Bangladesh in August.

The T20 World Cup will be played in the United Arab Emirates and Oman from Oct. 17 to Nov. 14, having been shifted from India due to the COVID-19 pandemic there.

"There's still a bit of time between now and (the T20 World Cup), and I'm tracking OK at the moment. It's slow, but I'm going OK," Smith told Cricket Australia's website (

"I'd love to be part of the World Cup, for sure, but from my point of view, test cricket, that's my main goal: to be right for the Ashes and try to emulate what I've done in the last few Ashes series I've been involved in."

The 2019 Ashes series in England ended in a 2-2 draw with the Australians holding on to the trophy having blanked their arch-rivals 4-0 when the five-match contest was last held Down Under.

Australia will meet Afghanistan in a single test in late November before the first of the five-match Ashes series begins on Dec. 8 in Brisbane.

The 32-year-old Smith, who is ranked second in the list of top test batsmen in the world, has a staggering record with the bat in one of the world's most high-profile cricket series.

He has hit eight hundreds and scored close to 2,000 runs in 14 tests across the past three Ashes.

"I want to put myself in a position where I can have that kind of impact," Smith said. "If that does mean not partaking in the World Cup, then we'll have to go down that path, but hopefully we don't have to go there.

"I've made a bit of progress with it the last few weeks. I started some batting, just 10 minutes at a time, and basically my path now to getting back to playing is building up from there.

"The Ashes is the primary focus from my point of view, (so) I need to be in a position where I can bat for long periods of time, and at the moment I can't do that, which is annoying."

(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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