A little bang on the helmet, then a bang in the middle, two kicks on the foot, a peek at the bowler, then pat the foot again and off you go. No, it’s not the do’s of an Antakshari game but the batting routine of the world’s number one batter in test matches – Steve Smith, which he does after every ball.
In his own words, he enjoys playing with himself, touching different parts of his body, but it’s his way of focusing on the game and not thinking about anything else. He said through that, he just has something to come back to after every ball because for a batsman there is only one ball that can get you out, so you have to stay focused throughout.
When he started his career he was a New South Wales leg spinner who could kick a bit. This skater is now averaging 62.84 in test matches with the bat and the bowling is just gone somewhere.
He started out hitting at number 7 or 8 and everyone thought this guy was a better batsman than a bowler. But, when you look at him, there is nothing conventional about his technique, where the experts say your head has to stay still, you have to stand in the line of stumps, etc. So defying standards is his first of many qualities as he overturned that old tradition of “technique is everything”. When you can play like this, does technique even matter?
The high backlift, sliding the bat through the line leaves outside of the stump, covering its stumps with its back leg as the bowler comes to the delivery stride – these things only make him the hitter the most. unique and original of all. That’s exactly what he does, before his bat starts to write his own story.
He shattered 26 centuries in 73 matches, with 3 double hundreds. So on average he scores a hundred in every 2.8 games, and that takes into account that he started out as a versatile bowler in his career. So how does a player like this become the most consistent and feared player in the format, at a time when the “traditional test-match art” has lost somewhere?
We’ve seen individuals take the game away from the opposition in shorter game formats, where a spell, a one-round shield can make you a match winner, but how do you do that in test match format? , over 5 days, where not only your skills, your state of mind is also at stake? He himself has won so many matches for Australia in recent years.
His batting and batting style is just the madness method. When you look at him, he seems to come out all the time. But he never looks uncomfortable at the fold. Playing on the merits of the ball and the mix of offense and defense, he put in some hard yards in practice which allows him to play for long stretches with the scorecard spinning all the time. He’s not a natural defensive player or slogger, but his solid overall play and mental toughness allow him to do both with enviable ease.
Captain career was not
His batting prowess has led him to lead his national team for a considerable time. He was part of the Ponting cricket school where the drummer flourished in the role of leader. The ease of transition of Australian cricket from Ponting to Michael Clarke, then also Smith must be one of the strengths of Australian cricket.
Under his leadership, Australia won 18 out of 34 tests, 25 out of 51 ODIs and 4 out of 8 T20Is, a winning percentage of 50 or more in all 3 formats. He was creating his own new generation Australian team, leading by example. And as fate had done, the sandpaper scandal took it all, especially his short career as a captain.
People thought a one-year ban could take a lot out of a 29-year-old and that he wouldn’t remain the drummer he was and many other things, but it looked like he had made a pause and come back as if nothing happened. Yes, he didn’t have a great 2019 World Cup by his standards, scoring 379 points in 10 games and people’s fear started to ring true.
But, not just for Smith, it wasn’t a good year for Australian cricket as well. As they lost an ODI series 5-0 to England, lost a series of tests to Pakistan and India, and everyone thought how the absence of one or two players made such difference than to look like winning everything, Australia looked like a pale shadow of itself.
Ashes 2019 – Series that showed humans the legend
However, Ashes 2019 was just the injection that Australian crickcet needed. Yes, David Warner has also returned, Marnus Labuschagne has scored points, but Australia looks and feels completely different with the presence of Smith. He exudes confidence in this line-up like no other. Australia struggled at 122-8 in the Ashes Series opener at Edgbaston. He settled in, squeaked, dug deep and scored 144 (219) to bring his team’s score to 284. If that wasn’t enough, Smith just crashed onto the English shores with another score of 140+ to win the game for Australia.
It was the guy, who was playing his first test heats after almost 18 months, after a year-long hiatus from cricket, against England with one of the toughest crowds in the world booing him throughout those 5 days. He scored 286 points in a single game. In 7 rounds of this series, he amassed 774 points. Only Don Bradman and Mark Taylor have more than him in an Ashes series for Australia. Bradman scored 974 in the 1930 series and 810 in 1936 while Taylor made 839 points in 1989. If he had played every game, who knows how many he would have scored. He was averaging 110.57 with scores of 144, 142, 92, 211, 82, 80 and 23. English bowlers just didn’t know how to get him out.
He came close to winning the Ashes series on his own for his team, only if Australia hadn’t squandered their criticism in Headingley’s penultimate test and used for Nathan Lyon’s lead call.
Record against India
Until he’s in the middle, all of Australia know they’re not out of the game no matter what the situation is in the game. So India now has a huge challenge, especially in the game’s longest format, given that it will be deprived of the services of its Charsimatic skipper in the last three tests. “Smith’s comeback will be a huge headache for India, he always scored points against them,” said Maxwell. And, he’s not wrong, because the last time India beat them Down Under, Smith and Warner weren’t on the Australian side.
Smith averaged 84 in his ten matches against India with 1,429 points. In games over 50 too, Smith has had the wood over the men in blue with 907 points to over 60. Those are serious numbers, with pristine consistency. But, with an improved attack pace, India has a chance against Smith & Co., only if it’s a touch.