Steve Smith began his 1st class career as a bowling all-rounder, went on to become Australia’s best batsman since Sir Donald Bradman. In 2018 his career was derailed by the Newlands ball-tampering scandal which stripped him of his captaincy and a 12 month ban. He brilliantly rose from this controversy, like a Phoenix from the Ashes, with a 774-run batting aggregate in the 2019 Ashes series, announcing his thundering return to Test cricket.
This was before he performed admirably in the 2019 World Cup, aggregating 379 runs in 10 games.
The Beginning –
In the Lord’s Test of 2010, Steve Smith and Tim Paine (his present captain) made their Test debut under Ricky Ponting’s captaincy. He was their bowling all-rounder, and had a decent success with the bat (259 runs in 5 Tests) before he was dropped, after the 2011 Ashes loss at home.
Steve’s batting technique had distracted a lot of experts, and perhaps him as well. Hence he was first dropped from Test cricket and then the limited overs format.
He went back to play state cricket and put on a decent performance in Shield cricket in the next two seasons, as follows:
- 2011-12 season 492 runs in 7 Shield matches @ 41.00
- 2012-13 season 296 runs in 5 Shield matches @ 37.00
After omitting him for 22 Tests (2 years), the selectors picked him up for their India tour of 2013. He scored 161 runs in 2 Tests.
This was followed by another decent performance in UK, the 2013 Ashes tour, where he scored 345 runs in 5 Tests. It featured his first international Test century.
The Leadership –
In Nov 2015 Steve Smith was officially made Australia’s Test captain. By this time, he was Australia’s top batsman.
Between his Test debut in 2010, and Oct 2015, he played 33 Tests accumulating 3095 runs @ 56.27, featuring 11 centuries!
His rise to greater heights was inevitable, with his batting technique starting to produce more runs with the additional leadership responsibility!
As a captain of 34 Test matches, he filled his coffers with 3659 Runs @ 703.6, with 15 centuries. During this period Australia played 10 Test series, winning 5 and losing 4
The Shame :
Then on fateful day of March 2018, he was handed over two bans for being the captain of a team that was involved in ball-tampering.
- Banned from playing any form of cricket for 1-year
- A 2-year ban from leading any 1st class team
The Rise –
He returned to Test cricket in August 2019, and rose once again with back-to-back centuries at Edgbaston, England!
Since then, he has scored 1028 runs in just 9 Test matches @ 73.42, purely as a batsman.
With regards to his contemporaries, Smith is poles apart. He is in no way similar to Virat Kohli, Kane Williamson or Joe Root. Yet, like them, he has a tremendous appetite for runs.
He looks very vulnerable when he first comes to bat, and does not remotely seem someone who would dominate….displaying lot of weakness early in his innings, he hardly gets out.
As a fielder, he is probably the best slip/point player. He also excels in the deep positions viz. long-on and long off, taking some breath-taking, gravity-defying catches near the boundary ropes, in the last few years!
The Challenge beckons
Today, power hitting seems to be the mantra of the T20 format of cricket. Though Smith is not in the same league as other specialist power hitters, he is definitely a game changer like them. He does this by hitting boundaries in various, unexpected parts of the ground, in the final few overs of the match.
The one challenge that now remains in front of him is to be as successful a captain as his predecessors have been for Australia.
Only time will tell whether Cricket Australia will appoint him as a captain again. If they do, they should start at the domestic level, and it will be interesting to see how he leads the team this time around. Can’t wait!
Here are some fantastic stats of Steve Smith!.
One day cricket