The rise and rise of Steven Smith




Anyone who told you four years back in 2011 that Steve Smith, the funky-haired and shiny-eyed carefree T20 specialist, will be taking over the mantle of Australian cricket’s Test captaincy from Michael Clarke would have either been joking or had a perfectly working crystal ball. Smith’s journey from standing at backward point for taking spectacular catches to standing in the team balcony to make a declaration has been a telling one.

The rise and rise of Steven Smith

The rise and rise of Steven Smith

The Sydney-born 25 year old notched up his fourth hundred of the series on Wednesday morning to take his tally to a staggering 698 from seven innings to propel his team to a total in excess of 550. Michael Clarke, speaking from the commentary box, was effusive in his praise for his replacement but also must have felt a tinge of jealousy on seeing that he was not being missed at all.

About four years back, Steve Smith was just another exciting cricketer in the huge pile that the T20 conveyor belt keeps churning out these days. Known for his superb fielding and street smart approach, Smith, at best, would have been a punter’s bet for 200 ODI matches for Australia, certainly not Test cricket. Nevertheless, somehow, the inability of the ever declining Australian domestic structure to produce new Damien Martyns and Justin Langers, fortunately, handed Steve Smith a spot in cricket’s ultimate cauldron.

His selection in the squad for back-to-back Ashes series (2013 and 2014) really harnessed Smith’s growth in Test cricket. After making scores of 53 and 89 in Nottingham and Lord’s, Smith scored a stunning 138 not out at the Oval to announce himself on the grandest stage and give an indication of the future. Australia lost the Ashes in England but gained a good middle order player in Smith.

Since then Steve Smith’s rise in dominance has coincided with Australia notching back-to-back Test series wins against England and South Africa. In no time, Smith has moved to 12 Test hundreds in 26 matches at an average of 62.93. Additionally, the 25-year old’s swagger, grit and appetite for success has handed him Test captaincy ahead of the aggressive David Warner and talented Shane Watson.

If Kumar Sangakkara is the vintage wine of the world cricket that is getting better with each passing day, Steven Smith is the cold but smooth beer likely to be in demand for the coming years. Smith, alongside India’s Virat Kohli and New Zealand’s Kane Williamson, will rule the batting roost in the world. The sheer improvement and transformation shown by the Australian in the last couple of seasons is a great example will’s triumph over ability.

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