Cricket

Published on March 17th, 2017 | by Sakshi Gupta

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Steve Smith – The unusual story of an unorthodox batsman ruling Test cricket

He commenced his Test career as a leg-break googly bowler. He made his Test debut at the Mecca of Cricket, Lord’s, in 2010 batting at No. 8. He was dismissed for scores of 1 and 12 respectively, and his casual stance had immediately caught everyone’s attention. He was not expected to become one of the best players of the format. After playing five Tests, he was dropped by Cricket Australia. He was asked to master the shorter format and play more of the Sheffield Shield to rectify his unconventional technique. To be precise, he was demanded to revolutionise his playing style.

He did try to tweak his technique according to the customary coaching record books.

However, when he stuck to his basics and retained his original style, then evolved a majestic Steven Peter Devereux Smith – the batsman who has been a delight to watch with every passing game.

He was recalled for the 2013 India tour and ever since he has been a regular face in the Australian Test side. In the meantime, Michael Clarke passed him the ultimate baton to lead Australia, making Smith Australia’s 45th Test captain. The 27-year-old’s unorthodox technique has been his strength in the longest format, making him the No.1 Test batsman for dominating bowlers across the globe and meanwhile, bringing an end to all the criticisms he had received for his style.

Due to Smith’s stance, the bowlers consider him an easy pick for a leg before wicket (LBW) dismissal. However, the Australian’s reflexes are way too quick. He intentionally plays the majority of the deliveries to the leg side and grabs the easy runs. In the 53 Tests he has played so far, he has been trapped LBW only 14 times. And the fact that he has been stumped only thrice speaks volumes about his knack of judging the ball.

Smith at present is in India leading the Australian side in the four-Test Border-Gavaskar Trophy. The third Test is underway at an all-new Test venue – JSCA International Stadium, Ranchi – and Smith made it his own by becoming the first Test centurion at the ground. While wickets fell at the other end, the Australian captain looked untroubled throughout the time he was in the middle.

He shared a 191-run stand with Glenn Maxwell before adding another 64 runs with Matthew Wade to take Australia past 400. Smith now has scored two centuries in the ongoing series, becoming the first Australian captain to hit two centuries in a series in India. The most prolific record that Smith has registered during the Ranchi Test is he is the third fastest Australian batsman to reach 5,000 Test runs and the youngest of his countrymen to do so.

Name Innings
Don Bradman 56
Matthew Hayden 95
Steven Smith 97

“If Smithy keeps maintaining what he’s doing now for another 100 Tests then he probably will end up being a better player than me,” former Australian captain Ricky Ponting earlier said in an interview.

With 13,378 runs from 168 Tests, Ponting, is considered to be Australia’s best batsman since Sir Don Bradman. At an age of 28, Ponting was the youngest Australian to reach the 5000-mark in the Tests. In 2010 at Lord’s, Ponting handed Smith the Baggy Green and seven years later he has now witnessed the same Smith break his record.

Smith, 27, achieved the feat of 5,000 Test runs by being a year younger than his ex-skipper.

The top three batsmen with the highest Test averages are Australians. Smith stands third behind countrymen, Don Bradman and Adam Voges. There are 30+ players between Smith and next current batsman on the table of highest career batting average in Tests. This ends the debate about who is the best Test batsman among Virat Kohli, Smith, Joe Root and Kane Williamson.

Name Country Span Match Innings Average
Don Bradman Australia 1928-48 52 80 99.99
Adam Voges Australia 2015-16 20 31 61.87
Steven Smith Australia 2010-2017 53* 97 61.46
Graeme Pollock South Africa 1963-70 23 41 60.97

Smith has endorsed the qualities like determination and perseverance. Despite his unorthodox technique becoming a laughing stock, he trusted in his abilities to only prove his critics wrong eventually.At the same time, he pulled an inexperienced Test side out of a transition phase when veterans like Clarke, Haddin, Watson and Johnson announced retirement one after the other.

Today, he is the captain of the World No. 2 Test side, Australia and himself the World No. 1 Test batsman. They have a huge task with the third Test in progress in Ranchi. A win in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in India’s backyard will mean the world to Smith’s Australian team!

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About the Author

mm

More than a sport, sports persons have kept her engaged in work. She is a sports fanatic whose mantra in life is “do only what you enjoy”. She tweets @sakshi2929.



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