He doesn’t have the best technique, he isn’t the most attractive player, he is pretty fidgety at the crease, his strokeplay isn’t the most fluent every time, in fact, by his own admission, he forgets to hold the bat at times. Despite all this, Steve Smith is arguably the best Test batsman of this generation. In fact, it may not be wrong to put him second only to the great Sir Don Bradman.
You ban him, he comes back better than ever. You keep him out of one game, he knocks you over with his willow. You boo him, he’ll slowly but surely turn almost all of them in applause.
Who would’ve even imaged Smith who started as a leg-spinner aspiring to be the next Shane Warne at this stage of his career. There is hardly any who can touch him at the moment. The former Australian skipper’s consistency is unmatched and unparallel at the moment.
He missed Test cricket for 16 months and nothing has changed. Bowlers were tired of watching him bat then, bowlers are tired of watching him bat now. They seem sick of him but he never gets bored. Smith is obsessed with batting. He shadow practices in his room, in the bus or any place possible.
The obsession is on another level and that’s evident every time he walks out to bat. And it was only in 2013 when Smith decided to give up leg-spin and concentrate on batting. He hasn’t looked back since. At the moment, there’s massive daylight between Smith and the rest of the world, especially in the longest format.
He has churned out numbers and broken records for fun. Hence, here are some of the big numbers from Smith’s career so far.
Second only to Sir Don Bradman in terms of average
99.94 is one number that will be forever etched in cricket history. That is Sir Don Bradman’s Test average and it has never been challenged. However, there’s always a question to who is second. There are five other batsmen who average in excess of 60 apart from Bradman. Only two of them (Herbert Sutcliffe and Smith) have played more than 50 Test matches.
But Smith stands out among them. He averages 64.81 which is 2.97 more than the next best (Adam Voges). In fact, he has played the most number of Test matches in top five batsmen with the best Test average. No current player even comes close to Smith. Virat Kohli is the next best with a Test average of 53.14.
Moreover, Smith’s average in the first innings of a Test (93.64) is once again second only to that of Bradman (113.66). In fact, 16 out of his 26 Test hundreds have come in the very first innings of a Test match.
Best average at No. 4
Steve Smith has often switched between No. 3 and 4. However, over the last couple of years, he’s settled down at 4. He’s played 48 innings at that position and he averages 81.56 which is the best for any batsman who has played 10 or more innings at that spot. No current or former player even comes close to challenging his numbers at No. 4.
Phenomenal Ashes record
Smith has accumulated 2697 runs in 26 Ashes Tests so far. He averages 65.78 which is the fifth-best in Ashes history. 2697 runs puts him on the eighth position on the list of most runs in overall Ashes cricket. Moreover, he has 11 Ashes hundreds which is the third-most by any player.
Bradman was on another level and Smith wants to catch up. While Bradman scored 134.54 runs per Test match, Smith is scoring 102.54. No other player (who has batted for a significant number of innings) in the history of the game scores more than 100 runs per Test match. Kumar Sangakkara and Brian Lara are the only ones that even come close as they have the ratio in the 90s.
Leaving everyone behind in 2019
671 runs in five innings, an average of 134.20, three hundreds, two fifties.
The aforementioned are Smith’s runs in Test cricket in 2019. All the others had a seven-month head-start and yet, Smith has overtaken them all and there’s clear daylight between him and every other batsman. Despite playing a mere five innings in 2019, the 30-year-old is way ahead of the others.
Ben Stokes and Travis Head are the two others who have scored in excess of 500 Test runs in 2019 but they have played 14 and 12 innings respectively. Hence, there are more than three months left in 2019 and it looks like he’s going to end the calendar year on the top as well.
The dream run since the start of 2014
Since the start of the year 2014, there has been only one calendar year in which Smith didn’t average in excess of 70. That was 2018, the year which he got banned for the ball-tampering fiasco. He amassed more than 1000 runs in Test cricket in each of the calendar years from 2014 to 2017. The average was touching the sky, he was churning out hundreds for fun.
After a 16-month hiatus from Test cricket, he’s back and better than ever. Smith currently averages 134.20 this year and looks set to cross the 1000-run barrier for the fifth time in his career.
Second fastest to multiple records
Smith is the joint second-fastest to the landmark of 6000 Test runs. He reached the milestone in 111 innings. Moreover, he is also the second-fastest to 25 and 26 Test hundreds. He took 119 innings to reach the 25th Test ton and just two more innings to reach the 26th one. There are no prizes for guessing who the fastest to these records was.
Smith’s hundred almost guarantees Australia won’t lose
Smith has scored 26 Test centuries so far in his career. Out of those 23 have resulted in an Australia win or a draw. Only three tons have come in a losing cause. Moreover, Smith scores a ton every 4.69 innings in Test cricket. If you consider Smith’s numbers since the start of 2014, he gets a Test ton every 3.79 innings. Hence, Smith is a ton-generating run machine. Moreover, Smith averages 87.52 when Australia wins.
Best among the Fab 4 in every aspect of Test cricket
Smith has more runs, a better average and more hundreds than any player of the Fab Four. Virat Kohli comes close on the run-tally, hundred-tally and frequency of hundreds. Williamson comes close on balls faced per match and average in wins. Root lags behind in most departments. Most of them come close but no one even challenges Smith’s insane numbers.
In this Ashes, he has almost single-handedly helped Australia retain the urn for the first time in England since 2001. Smith has amassed 671 runs in five innings in this series and the second best is Ben Stokes but even he’s more than 300 runs apart from Smith.
Thus, Smith seems to be batting on another level. In fact, he may be from another planet. He seems to be getting better day by day. Moreover, he is leaving everyone behind and he seems to be bettering his numbers day in and day out and he seems unstoppable at the moment. The juggernaut continues to scale new heights and fails to cease.