Thank god, Steve Smith didn’t learn the correct way of playing cricket. The way we call the purist’s delight and such like. But who are these purists? The guys who wear those ridiculous hats and sit in the bleachers is tweed suits? The ones that count the number of times they clap when the batsman hits a four or a six? I am not so sure.
From what I have seen of cricket a little over two decades, I have seen the stylists, the technically correct, the slam-bang guys, the pinch-hitters, the big bullies who wield their bats like Neanderthals in those period movies…And then there are the walkers. The guys who walk across the pitch when they bat. Those people who shuffle across a lot. Cue voice at the commentary box, “He may not be pleasing to the eye and could be vulnerable to LBWs with his unique technique, but he is a busy batsman with a sharp cricketing acumen.”
Probably this would aptly describe the Steve Smith. I just added ‘the’ because there is just this one. 🙂
Smith was in and out of the test squad since 2010 and it’s only after 2013 Ashes that he got a permanent role in the Australian Test Squad. It wasn’t exactly a sensational debut or anything, but he did a decent job of bowling leg spin – his role at the time of his test debut. Over a short span of time, that’s about 5 years, he has really grown as a cricketer.
Shortly after his debut, everyone was talking about his unorthodox style of batting. And that he won’t survive for long in test cricket. A decent debut with the ball and a couple of good scores in the 2010-2011 Ashes gave him enough confidence with the bat. He somehow went off the radar after that and made a sensational comeback with a century in the last test of the Ashes Tour of England in 2013. From then on, there was no turning back.
During India tour of Australia recently before the second test, Steve Smith was made captain after Clarke had been ruled out due to a back injury. The parallel we have to draw here is the fact that Virat Kohli was made the captain as well, as Dhoni was injured for the Adelaide Test. Both Smith and Kohli had a good run with the bat in the whole series. In fact, Kohli made a century on debut as a Test captain. The difference here is the final scoreline. Smith held more than a few innings in the series together and got Australia out of tough situations. Kohli was consumed by his aggression. Probably it’s just that aggression is not wired into our system however hard we pretend to be aggressive.
Smith was one of the main reasons Australia won the 2015 World Cup. He could play the sheet anchor role or turn aggressor whenever he wants to. In cliched terms or Ravi Shastri parlance, he can change gear anytime he wants to!
He looks like a cool customer from what I have seen. I have never seen him get aggressive. I guess behind those blue-green eyes, there is a steely resolve not to get out to silly shots and play sensible cricket according to the situation.
From a leg spinner who bats deep down the order to the mainstay of Australian batting at No.3, Steven Peter Devereux Smith has a long way. That’s because No.3 in a test squad worth its salt is reserved for great batsmen in the grade of a Ricky Ponting, Rahul Dravid, etc. I am not trying to compare Smith with these legends. It’s just that to bat No.3 for Australia in test cricket require some serious batting skills, temperament and grit. And I see a lot of all those in Steve Smith.
I would like to see more of him, and with his less-than-appealing batting technique, I am sure he is the successor to the great Steve Waugh who wasn’t exactly a ballet dancer with the bat himself!