I'm still trying to figure out how to get Steve Smith out cheaply, besides England's bowlers, cricket experts, pundits who are scratching their heads in consternation at Smith's prolificacy. His consistency is amazing. He is way ahead of his contemporaries in Test cricket, scoring runs home and away, against all opponents, spin or pace alike. He averages 63.31 in 60 Tests, nearly 6000 runs, 22 hundreds, 23 fifties is phenomenal record indeed. He's only 28 and batsmen usually are at the peak of their powers between 28 and 34. If this turns out true in his case, he will end up as an all-time great, second only to Bradman in terms of average and may break all batting records.
He's fleet footed, has high backlift and always moving in the crease, covering all 3 stumps by the time bowler reaches his delivery stride, occasionally revealing his leg stump. If you bowl straight to him, he punishes you with his ondrives, deft leg glances, as he's very good off his pads. He has all the shots in the book and can score quickly like he did in Perth scoring 239, reaching his century in 138 balls, and drop the anchor if the situation so demands like in the current Test at Melbourne, where he's looking good for another hundred and nearing landmark of 6000 runs.
The captaincy has only burnished Smith's average rather than burdening it. He averages 70 since becoming captain and 80 in Australia.
Smith is not aesthetic or pleasing on eye, but certainly very effective and keeps the scoreboard moving without playing risky shots. He has come a long way from 2010 when he considered himself a legspinner who can bat a bit!
The kind of medium papers England have taken along for this Ashes, they can bowl all 5 days but would still fail to get Smith out. He's just milking them.
If only Ambrose, Akram, Waqar Younis played in this era, what a fascinating contest it would have been! King of cutters, swing and deadly yorkers versus modern-day Bradman with high backlift, moving about in the crease.
December 30, 2017