Updated: Aug 20, 2019
Second to Sir Don Bradman in terms of Test batting average (62.96), the former Australian captain, Steve Smith rebooted his career from where he left it 16 months back. On the course of a new beginning, the ‘sandpaper-saga’ might have kept him quiet for almost a year and a half but, his redemption in whites is just phenomenal to watch.
They say, “Australian Cricket Captain is the second most important person after Prime Minister in the country”, which shows the ultimate respect people carry for the game. Smith was rightfully carrying the burden on his shoulders and living upto their expectations before the ball-tampering scandal hit his career. From being sacked as captain to being thrown out of cricket to people outrage, Smith faced it all and moved on.
Moving to the 2019 Ashes Series, Australia crushed England by 251 runs in the first Test match courtesy twin centuries from Steve Smith. 144 in the first essay and 142 runs in the second.
The Steve Smith Effect
Coming back to international cricket after a big layoff and scoring runs in bulk is never easy. It's like asking a Marathoner to clock the same time who is out of practice for six months. But, Steven Smith belongs to the elite category, he likes setting the standards and, living up to them.
In the first Innings, Steven Smith took the guard when Aussies were struggling at 3-35 and the top order back in the hut. He fostered a decent partnership with no.5 batsman Travis Head of 64 runs but what made his contribution stand out was the partnerships with no. 9 and no. 10 batsmen, 88 with Peter Siddle and 74 runs with Nathan Lyon. He managed to carry Australia from 8-122 to 10-284. On the way to such a marvelous effort, unwavering Smith hit a formidable test ton. His 24th in the tests. A typical Steve Smith at his peculiar best.
Coming back to international cricket after serving suspension period imposed by Cricket Australia, it was hard as a player for him as wherever he'd gone, more than the praise, people booed him often.
Smith has always been known for his special skills in tackling bowlers. To offies, he generally comes down the track and plays without fear of leaving the crease. With leggies, he generally stays back and plays. Against pacers, the flick is the most common and productive weapon he uses. On side is always his favourite. He doesn't shy away slithering across the stumps even on yorkers.
It was unlucky for Joe Root not to get the service of James Anderson due to injury. Smith was aware of it so, he latched onto the momentum he built in the first innings and went on to score a record-breaking 25th century in the 2nd Innings. 142 runs to be precise. No miracle, just Steven Smith's usual routine.
Records Broken by Steve Smith in first Ashes Test
1) 6 - Steve Smith became the second Australian batsman to score six consecutive fifty-plus scores in Ashes after Michael Hussey.
2) 10 - Number of centuries for Steve Smith in The Ashes. Only two batsmen have scored more hundreds in the history of Ashes: Don Bradman (19) and Jack Hobbs (12). He equalled Steve Waugh's tally of 10 centuries.
3) 8 - Steven Smith becomes the 8th batsman to score hundreds in both innings of an Ashes Test match.
4) 25 - Centuries for Smith in Test cricket. Second to Don Bradman in terms of innings. Bradman scored in 68 innings whereas Steve Smith in 119 innings. 8 innings fewer than Virat Kohli and 11 than Sachin Tendulkar.
Making such a strong comeback to his favourite format, Smith is redefining batting in Test cricket with every passing innings.
Australia now have 24 points in the ICC World Test Championship and Steve Smith has been the hero in their first victory in the championship. He has picked up from where he left and that is the kind of substance he brings into the setup for his national team. The redemption continues, surely.