Sports Cricket 29 Aug 2019 Steve Smith: The vit ...

Steve Smith: The vital cog of the Australian run-machine

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | VIRAJ SONI
Published Aug 29, 2019, 6:04 pm IST
Updated Aug 29, 2019, 6:57 pm IST
The only cricketer that comes even a little close to him is Virat Kohli in modern-day Test cricket.
Steve Smith's splendid performance and steady mindset rewarded him with the captaincy of the national team. (Photo: AFP)
 Steve Smith's splendid performance and steady mindset rewarded him with the captaincy of the national team. (Photo: AFP)

Mumbai: Few people would believe that Steve Smith first started as a spinner, albeit an unsuccessful one. Ever since that, a drastic change in technique and improvement in the batting department saw him turning out to be a classic all-rounder. Now, he is one of the greatest batsmen to be playing Test cricket. The only cricketer that comes even a little close to him is Virat Kohli in modern-day Test cricket. In Tests, Virat Kohli has played 131 innings and scored 6613 runs at an average 53.76 and Steve Smith has played 119 innings and scored 6577 runs at an average of 63.24.

The baby-faced cricketer has been a vital part of the Australian cricket team ever since the 2015 World Cup. He has gone on to perform splendidly for the Aussies in all the three formats. His splendid performance and steady mindset rewarded him with the captaincy of the national team.

 

The 2017 Ashes was where Steve Smith played some of the best knocks of his career. His best inning came in the 1st innings of the third Test. His score of 239 was one of the most vintage innings in today's cricket. He finished that series with a total of 687 runs, which included two centuries and a double century, at an average of 137.40. He was awarded the Compton-Miller Medal (Man of the series).

Everything was going perfectly when tragedy struck. Steve Smith was involved in a ball-tampering scandal in the third test against South Africa in March 2018. He was criticised for overseeing the entire saga. Because of this he had to step down from captaincy and after an investigation by Cricket Australia, he was banned from playing international and domestic cricket. His ban also included two years of ban from captaincy.

He served his ban and made his international comeback in the recently concluded 2019 ICC World Cup. He had a decent World Cup outing, where he scored 379 runs at an average of 37.90. But his showing in the last match of the WC against England gave flashes of what was about to follow.

The 2019 Ashes began and it was time for Steve Smith to show his talent in red-ball cricket once again. He was back at his phenomenal best when struck twin centuries -- 144 in first innings and 142 in second -- to help his side register a thumping 251-run win against England in the first Test.

In the second Test, he once again steadied the ship for the Aussies by scoring 92 runs in the first innings. His duel with Jofra Archer in this test was worth-watching. But, due to a concussion suffered by a bouncer hitting his neck, he was substituted for the second innings and as a result, he couldn't come out to bat.

He had to miss out on the third Test due to the injury suffered during the second Test. His absence in the third Test was a major reason that Australia couldn’t win because the runs had dried up from their end. Smith’s replacement, Marcus Labuschagne, did very well to fit his spot, but no one supported him from the other end.

Steve Smith’s absence from just a single match highlighted just how much importance does the Sydney-born cricketer have for the Australian team. He is one of the best, if not the best, modern-day Test player to grace the Gentleman’s game and Australia are very lucky to have them in their squad.

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