Former England captain Michael Atherton wants to see the gameplan employed by Indian pace attack against an unorthodox batsman like Australia’s Steve Smith when the two teams square off at the end of the year.

Smith was serving a one-year ball-tampering suspension when India won their first-ever Test series in Australia. Buccaneering opener David Warner also missed out on the series.

“I’ll be very interested to see what India come up with [against Smith],”Atherton said in a chat show on Sony Ten’s show Pit Stop. “He [Smith] is a highly unorthodox player, but I enjoy watching him for that reason.”

“I think the game is a better game when you’ve got people who are very unusual in the way that they play,” Atherton added.

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But Atherton, one of the most respected voices of world cricket, feels that India’s world-class pace attack comprising Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Ishant Sharma makes it an even battle.

“What really should give India fans hope Down Under is the strength of the bowling attack. It’s very, very difficult to win in Australia without a strong seam bowling attack,” Atherton said.

Atherton, who led England in 54 Tests, is impressed with India’s fast-bowling pool. “One of the great things in the last few years from my perspective, I’ve seen this sea change really, in terms of the quality of the fast bowlers that you’ve produced,” he said.

“If I go back and think to when I played in India in 1993, it was completely spin-based, you obviously had good fast bowlers as well but I don’t think that numbers in depth that you have now.”

He added: “If everybody played the same way, it’s a boring game. I love the fact that Steve Smith is quite unorthodox and he has success because of that. It makes it a more interesting game for me, but I don’t have any easy answers how to get Smith out.”

The Englishman tipped Rohit Sharma as a candidate for success on bouncy Australian tracks. “The one thing I do enjoy watching about Indian batsmen is that they look very natural to me, and not over-coached and not forced, fluid and fluent and of course, no better example than that of Rohit Sharma.

“That top of the order is so important in Australia. Because if you can have a solid successful start there, as soon as that Kookaburra ball loses its shine, you can have some lovely batting conditions there,” he added.

The upcoming England’s series against West Indies in bio-secure environment in the midst of Covid-19 pandemic. “They [West Indies] have got a decent bowling lineup. And the question really is whether West Indies will get the runs to give those bowlers the ammunition to have a go at England. If they do get runs, they’ll be a threat to England and they’ll be competitive.”