Smith to fight for England Test spot

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The Independent Online
The Hampshire batsman Robin Smith has not given up hope of forcing his way back into the England side for this summer's Ashes series against the Australians.

Smith's Test career was put on hold 14 months ago by the former chairman of selectors Ray Illingworth after the side's disappointing winter tour to South Africa. But now Smith is aiming to impress Illingworth's successor, David Graveney, and the new selection panel which includes two of his former England colleagues, Graham Gooch and Mike Gatting.

Smith, who has scored 4,236 runs in 62 Tests at an average of 43.67, said: "I am only 33 years old and feel I still have plenty to offer at international level. It's up to me to get the runs for Hampshire and then force the selectors to consider me.

"This is a big season for me and it is a big one for England in an Ashes series, and my record against the Australians is as good an anyone's. I remind myself that I was a Test player only 14 months ago and I am fitter now than I have ever been."

Smith realises that he faces a battle to regain his place, but he added: "I have a great desire to get back into the England Test team and the Australians are so powerful that I think there might be a vacancy or two in the latter stages of the series.

"I have missed Test cricket more than I thought I would. It had been part of my life for eight years, summer and winter, and it was good to hear that David Graveney is wiping the slate clean and giving everyone a chance."

Hampshire's captain, John Stephenson, is backing his colleague to regain his place. "Robin is a world-class player full of ambition and must still be an England contender because he has a lot of cricket left in him," he said.