Steve Smith’s unorthodox batting technique is not something a purist will advocate to budding players, but his monstrous run-scoring ability might force coaching manuals to be rewritten, former Australia cricketer Adam Gilchrist has said.
Twitchy at the crease, Smith extravagantly shuffles across his stumps with his bat’s backlift pointing towards gully – all a strict no when youngsters are learning the art of batting.
But in his inimitable style, the 30-year-old Smith has scored 671 runs in five innings during the Ashes at an average of 134.2 and has climbed to the top of the Test rankings for batsmen despite sitting a year out due to a ban.
“Years ago, Smith had a lean patch with the bat, and had to step away for a bit,” former wicketkeeper-batsman Gilchrist told reporters in Bengaluru on Wednesday. “He tried to change his technique, but later decided to stay true to his game.
“To stick to your guns when all the cricketing greats, coaches and textbooks say you are wrong — that takes real courage. And now everyone is watching him bat in amazement, and trying to learn from him.
“The textbooks on batting technique may need to be rewritten.”
Australian cricket was thrown into turmoil 18 months ago when Smith, his vice-captain David Warner and batsman Cameron Bancroft were banned for their roles in a ball-tampering scandal in South Africa.
Smith and Warner have been repeatedly booed and mocked by the crowds in England and while Warner has scored just 79 runs from eight innings during the Ashes, Smith has seen himself compared to Australian great Don Bradman.
“Smith’s run is extraordinary, considering the sort of pressure he was under,” said Gilchrist, who played 96 Tests for Australia. “It (heckling) was expected from the England crowds.
“Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft took responsibility for their actions. Smith has utilised the time away to come back mentally tougher.”
While Tim Paine’s side managed to retain the Ashes urn with their victory in the fourth Test in Manchester, Gilchrist feels the Australian side was far from a settled outfit.
“Travis Head, Marnus Labuschagne, Marcus Harris, Cameron Bancroft — they are still finding their feet in Test cricket. I don’t think anyone has secured their spot in the Australian team, apart from Steve Smith,” the 47-year-old said.
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