Steve Smith is confident a nagging back complaint will not prevent him building on his imperious MCG record in the Boxing Day Test against India.
But the former captain admits he initially feared he would miss the series opener in Adelaide when he was forced to withdraw from a nets session two days prior.
Smith was hampered by the injury in the build-up to the first Test in Adelaide, which Australia won by eight wickets, and failed to have his usual impact with the bat.
The 31-year-old made just one run from 29 balls before nicking Ravichandran Ashwin in the hosts’ first innings and finished unbeaten on one in the second dig.
But four days out from the Boxing Day showpiece, Smith said his back issue is manageable.
Smith broke down attempting a fielding drill 48 hours out from the opening Test, and admits he had some nervous moments before physios freed him up enough to play.
“Initially when I did it, I did have some fears,” he said. “I’ve had a few back issues in the past and they’re generally two or three day things where I do lots of physio and get myself into extension.
“Generally when I do it, I’m in inflexion and I struggle to get into extension, so it’s just about getting the physio to push on my back and getting that extension to try and get that range back.
“It’s still a bit stiff but it didn’t hamper me too much during the game, it was all good.
“It’s something I need to manage whenever it goes. I haven’t had an episode since 2014, so hopefully they can continue to be six years apart if they come.”
Smith has made a habit of destroying opponents at the MCG, with four centuries – three of them unbeaten – and three fifties in seven Test matches dating back to 2010.
His Test average of 113.50 in Melbourne is higher than at any other ground where he has played more than once. By comparison, his next best average on home soil is 67.88 at the SCG.
“I like batting at the MCG and [on] those big occasions,” Smith said. “I like to try and make the most of them and help the team out.
“There’s nothing like the thrill and you get the shivers down your spine when you walk out to bat on Boxing Day with the crowd yelling, and it’s like a dream come true in a way.
“As a kid I always wanted to play in a Boxing Day Test match.”