Australia’s Smith to debut as commentator at IPL

NEW DELHI (AFP): Australia’s Steve Smith will debut as a commentator at the upcoming Indian Premier League, the tournament’s broadcaster said Tuesday, ending the mystery about his return to the event.

The 16th edition of the cash-rich Twenty20 extravaganza begins Friday in Ahmedabad, with 10 teams and a host of global stars in attendance for the eight-week tournament.

“Steve Smith has joined the expert panel for the marquee tournament. Smith will be making his broadcast debut with Star Sports, adding his invaluable insights and expertise to Star Sports’ already impressive roster of panelists,” the broadcaster said in a statement.

Smith, 33, announced his return to the tournament on Twitter on Monday, saying in a teaser video: “Namaste, India. I’ve got some exciting news for you: I’m joining IPL 2023.”

That post sparked speculation he might return to the tournament as a player.

The video drew considerable mirth on social media for Smith’s robot-like performance in the 15-second clip, during which he didn’t blink.

“DON’T blink if you’re being held at gunpoint,” one Twitter user quipped.

Another fan advised Smith, who recently led Australia in two Tests and three one-day internationals in India, to use his bat and not the microphone on his Indian return.

Smith last played for the Delhi Capitals in the lucrative IPL in 2021 before he went unsold in the auction for the following season.

The star batsman kept himself out of this season’s mini-auction in December but can be picked up as an injury replacement by any team.