I have improved a lot: Steve Smith

Mohali, (IANS): Australia's young batsman Steve Smith on Thursday said he has vastly improved as a player since he was dropped from the team after the Ashes defeat at home 26 months ago.

"I've probably always been more of a batsman than I was a bowler. I think I've improved a lot in the last 12 to 18 months," Smith said.

The 23-year-old made his sixth Test appearance at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium on Thursday, after rain played spoilsport as the first day's play was abandoned without a ball being bowled.

Smith said he made a couple of changes to his technique that made him more stable.

"I've changed a couple of things with my technique that have made me a bit more stable at the crease, a bit more balanced and more selective as well. I feel like I'm tightening my technique up quite a bit and I feel as if I've been playing spin really well on this trip in the nets and previously as well. I'm looking forward to getting out there and having a crack in the middle and hopefully I'll be successful," he said.

He has trained hard for the tour and was now looking forward to the Test match.

"I've been training very hard this tour. There's been quite a few of us on the sidelines and we've got a good chance to get in the nets and work on our skills at those times. I feel like I've done that and feel I'm going really well at the moment. To be back in the XI is very exciting and I'm looking forward to hopefully getting some play tomorrow," he said.

He feels he is more of a batsman than a bowler.

"The first two Tests I played, I played as a bowler. It's a bit different now to come in as a No.5 specialist batter and that's something I've worked really hard on in the last couple of years, becoming more balanced and getting big runs. I'm excited about coming out in this Test as a batter and hopefully I'll be able to get a few out in the middle as well," said the all-rounder.

Smith said he didn't get much chance bowling for New South Wales in the last year or two.

"At NSW we've got Steve O'Keefe and young Adam Zampa coming through as a leg-spinner. I haven't had to do a hell of a lot of bowling in the last year or two. It's still something that I do work on pretty hard in the nets. In this game the wicket looks pretty dry so there could be a chance to roll a few leggies out in the second innings if there's a bit of rough," he said.