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Smith to be Australia’s best since Bradman?

Ritesh Misra Roar Guru

By Ritesh Misra, Ritesh Misra is a Roar Guru

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    Sir Don Bradman’s 334 against England at Headingley in 1930 was the highest Test score ever by an Australian batsman.

    It remained so for 73 years when Hayden scored 380 at Perth versus Zimbabwe. 

    Lets go back to 1998. Mark Taylor scored 334n.o. at Peshawar versus Pakistan to equal the Don’s record. He had a chance to possibly exceed it and Brian Lara’s highest Test score of 375. The Aussie team voted for him to bat on. However skipper Taylor declared, refusing to pass Bradman’s score. 

    This Mark Taylor incident shows the reverence Australian cricketers have for Bradman, who is not only Australia’s best ever but the world’s greatest. With 29 tons in 52 Tests, 6996 runs with an average of 99.94, the stats indicate only a fraction of how complete and dominating a batsman Bradman was.

    The race then is who will end up as Australia’s second best batsman. In recent times, Steve Smith with his astonishing consistency has shown that he has it in him to last the distance.

    Before having a look at Smith’s performances, let us have a quick look at some of the other great Australian batsmen on acceptable parameters such as Test runs, number of hundreds and average etc.

    The 10,000 men

    Ricky Ponting has an astronomical 13,378 Test runs in his 168 Tests with a healthy average of 51.85. Punter had 41 Test 100s which is the maximum by any Aussie batsman.

    Border follows Punter with 11174 runs in his 156 Tests. He has 27 tons and his average is 50.56. Steve Waugh who also played 168 Tests scored 10927 Test runs with 32 tons at an average of 51.06.

    Number of 100s
    Punter heads the list with 41 followed by Steve Waugh with 32 and Matthew Hayden with 30. In fact only Sachin Tendulkar (51) and Jacques Kallis (45) are ahead of Punter. 

    Highest averages
    After Bradman’s 99.94 is the unlikely name of Adam Voges who showed incredible consistency especially at the beginning of his career to end up with an average of 61.87 while scoring 1485 runs in 20 Tests. Smith follows him with 59.66.

    Then there are two great batsmen, Greg Chappell and Ponting. While Chappell had an average of 53.86 when he piled up his 7110 runs in 87 Tests, Punter’s average was 51.85.

    We now come to Steve Smith. He was dismissed by many as a T20 Player who could bowl leg spin but cemented his place as a pure batsman. He has played 56 Tests and has scored 5370 runs and his average is 59.66. He has 20 centuries in his 56 Tests. 

    While the above looks good, the good becomes extraordinary when one notes that Smith had less than 1000 runs in his first 16 Tests and he had only two 100s. Still it was impressive and indicated potential considering his first two series were a horror 0-4 loss to India and a 0-3 loss to England in Ashes. 

    Since then Smith has exploded with 4400 runs and 18 100s in 40 Tests at an average of almost 71. This certainly is Bradmanesque. 

    Impact knocks
    After their 3-0 loss to England, Australia were itching for revenge and got it in style , winning 5-0 with Smith scoring two Tons. In a 2-1 series win versus South Africa in South Africa, Smith in the first innings of the first Test had a big 100 in a 233-run partnership with Shaun Marsh. In the deciding third Test he had a crucial 89 and a 36 not out. 

    In the 2015 Ashes which Australia lost 2-3 , Smith still scored 500 plus runs. Versus India  a year earlier, he had scored 769 runs in four Tests at an average of 128. He had four hundreds and had most runs ever by an Australian in a four Test series, surpassing none other than Bradman. 

    Success everywhere
    While Smith has phenomenal success in home conditions, he has succeeded everywhere. He has had three centuries in a four Test tour of India where most English and Aussie batsmen fail. He has scored in Sri Lanka, in South Africa, in New Zealand and in England.

    All this shows that Smith is well on his way to becoming the second best Australian Batsman of all time. There are hugely big names ahead of him , the biggest two of which are Ricky Ponting and Greg Chappell.

    However Smith is just 28, he is captain of all three formats. He is incredibly consistent and superbly fit . He has terrific potential. 

    Smith is destined for bigger things ahead. 

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    The Crowd Says (8)

    • November 14th 2017 @ 10:51am
      AdrianK said | November 14th 2017 @ 10:51am | ! Report

      All good players, you’ve thrown into the mix.
      Probably worth remembering they all had averages in the high 50’s at the peak of their careers. The natural lifecycle of the batsman is to have the career average fall in the last few years. (except Kallis – freak!)

      • November 14th 2017 @ 11:14am
        Trevor said | November 14th 2017 @ 11:14am | ! Report

        Agree. Ponting had an average around 57 before he petered it away by carrying on for half a decade after his used by date. If Smith realises the time is right to go, he will end with a great average, but the likelihood is he will continue on and his average will push back into the low 50s.

        • November 15th 2017 @ 6:32am
          Ritesh Misra said | November 15th 2017 @ 6:32am | ! Report

          What is the right time to go ? thats the million dollar question

      • November 15th 2017 @ 6:29am
        Ritesh Misra said | November 15th 2017 @ 6:29am | ! Report

        Excellent Point indeed. In fact Voges for some time had an average of 90 plus. Then it went down. It will indeed be difficult for Smith to keep his average of 60 . Lets see

    • Roar Guru

      November 14th 2017 @ 11:00am
      spruce moose said | November 14th 2017 @ 11:00am | ! Report

      He’ll be a pinch disappointed he did not get a century in Bangladesh – the opportunity to complete the century in all nations circuit went beckoning for a few years.

      • November 15th 2017 @ 6:31am
        Ritesh Misra said | November 15th 2017 @ 6:31am | ! Report

        Very true, especially as Bangladesh gets so few Tests and a tour there would mean a good few years later

    • Roar Guru

      November 14th 2017 @ 11:07pm
      Anindya Dutta said | November 14th 2017 @ 11:07pm | ! Report

      Permit me to doubt that Ritesh. He is good, very good. But his purple patch will end as Kohli’s has in Tests. And then the average will go down. That’s my reading. I also feel he is just not captaincy material and maybe to be better than Ponting what he needs to do is give up the captaincy and just concentrate on his batting. That could be a game changer for the long term.

      • November 15th 2017 @ 6:30am
        Ritesh Misra said | November 15th 2017 @ 6:30am | ! Report

        Interesting point. Captaincy indeed in all 3 formats is very taxing. With Warner around, maybe Smith may give up one form. Lets see

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