Dwarfing the giants

September 22, 2019

England ended their memorable summer by earning a 2-2 draw in the Ashes with a 135-run win over Australia in the fifth Test last week. Australia retained the Ashes which they won in 2017-18 in...

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England ended their memorable summer by earning a 2-2 draw in the Ashes with a 135-run win over Australia in the fifth Test last week. Australia retained the Ashes which they won in 2017-18 in Australia. It was the first occasion in last 47 years that an Ashes series ended in a draw.

There is a long list of great batsmen that Australia have produced: Sir Don Bradman, Greg Chappell, Allan Border, Steve Waugh, Dean Jones, Mark Taylor and Ricky Ponting.

Australian batsman Steven Smith was the most successful batsman of the Ashes series with 774 runs in four Tests with one double hundred, two centuries and three fifties, averaging 110.57. His scores were 144, 142, 92, 211, 92, 80 and 23. The last innings of the series was the only one when he failed to reach fifty.

During the series, Smith moved past India captain Virat Kohli to reclaim the No.1 in the ICC rankings for Test batsmen with 934 points. Kohli slipped to No.2 with 903 points. Kohli will get a chance to reclaim the top spot when India take on South Africa in a 3-Test series at home.

Overall, Kohli is a batter batsman, but Smith is a better Test batsman. Smith has 26 centuries in Tests, while Kohli has 25.

Smith’s 774 runs in the Ashes is the highest tally of runs scored by a batsman in a Test series since 1994. Brian Lara had amassed 778 runs in a series 25 years ago. Overall, Smith has scored 2615 runs in 26 Ashes Tests at an average of 65.37, including 11 centuries.

Only three batsmen in Test cricket history have scored more centuries than Smith against a single opposition: Bradman (19) against England, Sunil Gavaskar (13) against the West Indies, and Hobbs (12) against Australia.

Steven Peter Devereux Smith has scored 1419 runs in his last 12 Ashes innings at an average of 141.9. He scored 7 hundreds and 3 fifties. Bradman scored 1111 runs in 10 Ashes innings at an average of 138.87.

Smith also broke former Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq’s record of nine consecutive 50-plus scores against England. Smith scored 10 fifty plus scores against them. With this outstanding performance, Smith has joined an elite list of batsmen who have scored over 700 runs in a Test series more than once. The others who have done this before are Bradman, Gavaskar, Lara, Everton Weekes and Gary Sobers.

He averaged more than 70 in 4 consecutive years, from 2014 to 2017.

His average in winning matches is 84.95 – the second-best in Test history, again after Bradman (130.08). As many as 23 of his 26 hundreds have contributed to an Australian victory or resulted in a draw or tie.

Smith’s contribution to his team’s wins make him superior to Kohli, New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson and England captain Joe Root.

Smith made his Test debut as a spinner who could bat in the lower order. His first Test was against Pakistan in July 2010 at Lord’s. In that Test, Smith scored only 1 and 12, batting at number 8 and 9, respectively.

Initially his selection was criticised, but later Smith proved his worth in the Australian team in Tests as well as ODIs. He has proved his batting skills in all conditions and against all kinds of attacks.

Smith did not have a great beginning to his Test career and averaged just 34.64 in his first 16 Tests till the end of 2013, having only two hundreds. But since then, he has scored 5818 runs in 51 Tests at an average of 75.5, scoring 24 hundreds.

Smith has the second highest career average in Tests, 64.56. The only one ahead of him is Bradman with 99.94 runs.

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