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From An Innocent Leg Spinner To An Impeccable Test Match #3 – Steve Smith’s Flight Of Fantasy

July 27, 2015


I felt sorry for the small-built 21 year old leg spinner who looked even younger when he made his Ashes debut 4 years back. Australia at that time were desperately searching for their next Shane Warne. In the 3rd test at Perth, the kid was brought into the playing XI in place of Marcus North and was surprisingly asked to bat at number 6. He did have little to exhibit from his talent at that time. However it was never a surprise that he didn’t get a single over to bowl on the world’s fastest pitch. The Aussie quickies were doing the business of mauling the English batting line up anyways. So it was quite an obvious thing that people had a lot to ask about the leg spinner’s role in that team. Some of them termed it “a joker’s role”. In contrast, Ricky Ponting, the Australian skipper of that time, stuck to his own point regarding the youngster whom he found to be more of a batting all-rounder rather than a specialist spinner and considered him as one of world cricket’s future stars.

Now let’s come back to the present scenario. Australia are yet to find their next Shane Warne and probably never will. Ponting retired from all forms of the game and now can only watch the Ashes encounters from distance. He is nevertheless featuring in the com-box for the ongoing Ashes series and also a part of its experts’ panel. But if you look at the rest of the panelists and their opinions, especially the ones who had also been there 4 years ago; it’s a 180 degree turn they have been forced to take by the kid himself who casted the joker’s role earlier. As this edition of Ashes was about to commence, they all talked about that guy coming into this tournament having tons of runs under his belt. When all of them were asked to pick a player who can be the differentiator of this Investec Ashes Series 2015, everyone, without a shadow of doubt in their mind, went for the man whom I am talking about – Steven Peter Devereux Smith.

Ricky Ponting, who undoubtedly owns one of the sharpest cricketing brains of this generation, was spot on to hit the bull’s eye discovering Smith’s batting ability when nobody would even have thought that he could bat. Hence it will remain as one of the most iconic things as Steve Smith went on to win the man of the match in a Lord’s test where Ponting rang the day 1 bell. Now let me take you through Smith’s journey from being a leg spinner to become the world’s #1 test batsman, which hasn’t been a cake walk by any means.

The wonderful spell of success that Smith is enjoying must be attributed to his determination, patience and hard work. Actually the best thing he did is something what the Aussies do the best. Nothing seems better if one can rightly apply the knowledge and experience of the shorter format while playing in the longer one. When someone like Steve Smith says that learning the ways of pacing a T20 innings while playing IPL has been of great help to him in order to grow as a test match cricketer; it simply goes to show that all it matters is the spirit you are playing with, not the format you are playing in. Moreover dwelling in a fair amount of first class cricket after a quiet start to the test career helped him correcting many of his technical issues, without which it would have been hard to imagine him playing at this level with this much of consistency.

For someone who bats up the order in a test match, what’s more important is that how he leaves the ball, not how he plays his shots. This is an area which he has improved immensely over the years. Now he comes up with a tighter stance and knows exactly where his off stump is. He may not be among the most orthodox batsmen in the world, but he has certainly worked a lot on the basics of the game and developed a compact defense. These days he relies more on playing with soft hands what lessens his chances of getting caught behind, something of which he was an often victim during the early days of his test career.

Smith may not be an aesthetically pleasing batsman like Clarke but he gives less opportunity to his opposition of getting him out early in his innings. He is not an extraordinary player of pace bowling like Ponting either, which of course not many players are, but his footwork surely puts him way above Ponting as a batsman against spin bowling.

One can’t simply rely on somebody like Watson having a sluggish technique and an immobile footwork for extinguishing the vacancy created at the number 3 slot with Ponting’s departure. Steve Smith may just be the ideal person for that position. He has already grabbed the opportunity of batting at #3 with both hands and making a big name for himself. In his short test career he has already shown that he is not afraid to take the responsibility and he is not amongst those who break down under pressure. He has the ability of batting for a long time and easily one of the only two current Aussie players who are the best in terms of temperament. If the above are the qualities of a great one-down test batsman, I don’t see any reason why Smith will not stamp his authority on that position to make it his own.

Talking about taking responsibility, he will have to take a lot more of those in near future. With Clarke’s retirement from ODIs, as the team needs a new captain, here are the few checkboxes that the selectors would want their next captain to tick:

  1. Established in the team
  2. Man in form
  3. Has a good cricketing brain
  4. Captaincy experience
  5. Captaincy success
  6. Good on and off the field conduct
  7. Popular with his teammates
  8. Young, hard working and fit having a bright future ahead

One doesn’t need to be an expert in order to judge that only Steve Smith in the current Australian team checks each box from 1 to 8 and eventually checkmates George Bailey in this regard.

  1. What i think is he is a legend in the making,if he continues like this….

  2. Ankan Roy permalink

    Satti you r r8.He is a very good and talented cricketer.tar ei asadharon mahatto australian cricket k hater mutho nie a6e.

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