Before diving into the unusualness in the batting technique of Steve Smith, let’s discuss one of his best-ever Test match performance.
Steve Smith, in 2019 Ashes Trophy, was simply unbelievable.
Steve Waugh, who was with the Australian team on that series as a mentor, compared Smith to a computer. He was all praise for Smith’s technique. He explained, “He (Smith) analyses every ball, and it’s like a computer, he spits out the answer.”
I have found myself continually asking this a lot in recent times: How efficient a man can be?
When Australia was 122/8 on Day-1, the thought of the usual 1st Test victory in the home test series must have brushed the English team’s mind already.
But the man holding the other side of the pitch was not walking away. He stood there, played his heart out not to mention the support he received from the Aussie No. 10 and 11, and then he stayed more to get his first Test century of the year.
Not stopping there, he went on to score twin centuries in the game.
And the twin innings became more special with the Australian team winning the 1st Test match of the series, and got a lead of 1-0 early in the series. That was Australia’s first win in Edgbaston since 2001.
Can’t get more special, right?
There are two ways I feel astonished by those twin centuries scored by Steve Smith.
One is the quality of the innings itself.
And two – the time at which it had come.
Coming after a cricketing ban of 12 months (Him, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft), that was the best one must have expected him to do.
Not to mention the controversies and the crowd booing around him.
To me, Smith’s innings in Edgbaston was an act of redemption and foreclosure of his older self.
You should look at his Test average, and compare it with the ideal batting averages for batsmen in Cricket to understand his insanity.
It was so inspiring how fast he made the controversies around him a piece of old news.
Let’s discuss more!
The Twin Centuries – a statistical lookup!!!
Firstly, how do you tag this twin inning(s) of Steve Smith?
I would say in purely cricketing terms – it was Bradmanesque! Illogical!!!
(Speaking of Bradman, you should read this insane compilation of Bradman records in Test cricket!)
Smith, from the beginning, always has his ways of denying the logic and the laws of average, in Test cricket particularly.
Every time Smith plays an innings like this, looking at his sheepish grin, it always finds me saying involuntarily – ‘Bradman, here he comes. You are not alone, anymore!’ – Maybe that’s a story for another day perhaps.
- 1st Twin Centuries by Steve Smith in International cricket, and there are only 14 cricketers who have scored 2 or more Twin centuries in Test cricket.
- 8th TC in Ashes Series; 5th by an Australian. Last time, it was scored, it was Matthew Hayden in 2002 in Brisbane.
- This is just the 2nd time, an Australian has scored centuries in both innings of an ashes Test in England soil.
- Smith’s 286 runs, in this Ashes Test, is his high score in any Test match.
- By doing so, he achieved the feat of the second-fastest Test batsman to score 25 Test centuries (119 Inns), only after Bradman (68 inns).
Most importantly, 1st time in the 72 years, no other batsman has scored two centuries in the first Test of any Test series in England.
In short, this Test match is going to be in the mind of cricket fans for a very long time, just for the excellency of Steve Smith.
Fine… Now let’s move on to Smith’s technique. Shall we?
Can’t get more-weird!
Do you agree if I say ‘Everything about Steve Smith and his batting is weird’?
I think you do!
From his batting stance and the strange follow-throughs of the bat and his body to the fluttering hand movements while standing at slips – everything is unique and uncanny about him.
I believe that makes him the toughest to read on by the bowlers. Some bowlers may get annoyed too.
You should ask Ishant Sharma that!
And the best part is, Smith accepts the fact that ‘he is called weird’ by calling it a fine line. He said that in an interview with Nasser Hussain for Sky Sports.
He even added saying that he is a weird sleeper too.
According to Smith, he, on an average, sleeps for 15 hours in 5 days of a whole Test match. He is obsessed for sure.
But that’s not all. The weirdest part about Steve Smith, to me, is:
He was initially picked as a leg spinner and a lower-order batsman in the Australian team, before making it to the world’s best batsman.
Beats me every time, I think about it.
The Batting Technique
According to a firstpost article, dated December 2017, Steve Smith’s technique of shuffling across the stumps and not getting dismissed lbw or bowled, almost contradicts the mechanism of batting.
And they backed it with some brilliant stats. Enjoyed reading it!
Here is my understanding from the article on Steve Smith’s batting technique:
- Steve Smith, being a back-foot player, his whole balance is on his left-leg behind (which he lands outside the off-stump line), thereby allowing his front foot to be always in line to the incoming ball, not fixed.
- Also, his mastery in keeping the head still and in the line of the ball, makes sure his front foot lands out of the line of the ball every time, thereby eradicating the possibility of lbw.
- The crucial point in his technique is his bat curve. The bat usually arrives from a spot pointing towards the gully point area, almost deceiving the bowler to bowl full at stumps, and then comes straighter at the end in an unbelievable fashion, only known to him.
- With practice and his repeated shadow training, his impact point of bat and ball rarely gets in front of his body, and the process of his bat stopping exactly at the right spot was controlled well by the unintentional yet-weirder follow-through of his body, which is again mastered by the repeated training.
So, by looking at his technique, succeeding in targeting the Smith’s inside edge becomes almost impossible, even though it asks for the bowler to bowl at his stumps. It is a (un)intentional trap set by Smith!
And thereby, going for his outside edge is the better chance for the pacers to get him out. And that makes things worse for the bowlers in flat tracks with no lateral swings.
The Bottom line
So, what does one expect from Steve Smith from here?
He is averaging well over the 60s in Tests, and with this form, it can go only higher.
But will he reach the magical numbers of Bradman?
I am not answering it at this point, as Smith is known for his illogical and weirdness in cracking records. Bradmanesque, right?
But you can! Comment below what do you think will be Steve Smith’s Test average at the end of his career. Also, if you want to add something else about his technique that we missed, write on that too!
Cheers! Thanks for reading!