Steve Smith- From Rags to Riches and vice versa

Steve Smith. The best test player of 2017. Five years ago, nobody imagined Steve Smith at this stage. The thing about Steve Smith is – he is a case study in itself.  A leg spinner who was fast tracked into the Aussie team as a heir to the spin wizard Shane Warne and cut back to the present. He is carrying the Australian batting on his little shoulders.

Destiny was high on drugs when the batting talent was distributed to Steve Smith. He is everything but a batsman. His Back foot and front foot are aligned vertically. He adjusts his helmet 8 times in 40 seconds before facing the ball. He jumps on the off side to negate the swing. He plays all the orthodox shots in the most unorthodox way. Plays all the technical shots in the most untechnical way. All the stuff that you can associate with a tail ender.

Making your secondary craft primary is amazing. Smith did it in style. He did it with ean and panache and with utmost ease. He started his career as a leg spinner who batted at number 8. Now he is world’s best batsman who hardly ever bowls.

Life is funny sometimes. Some of the batsman who had the watertight technique to become a superstar in the international cricket never ever fulfilled their potential. And there are players like Steve Smith they just manage with whatever little batting technique they have, they just find a way to score runs. And score them, bloody consistently. And that’s the unique thing about this game. There is plenty of opportunities for the studious students who do everything right. But the backbenchers and punks are not thrown away from the system.

Players like Smith, MS Dhoni, Shivnariane Chanderpaul can survive and succeed with their unique technique only in this game. Other games don’t allow you to be yourself. You have to be the best team player to play the team game. But in cricket, you can be yourself and still take the team along with you.

So when a bloke who was a bowler turned into a run scoring machine if baffles you because in a generation where your batting credentials are measured by how sweetly you drive through the cover and how straight your straight drives are. Smith is an exception as Jerrod Kimber once said “If batting is a code then Smith is a hacker.” It aptly sums up smithy.

There may be thousands of ways to get out but still Smith will score. He is modern master. A flawed genius. A Maruti Suzuki 800 but with jaguar’s horse power.

He never ever makes batting look beautiful. He just manufactures shots from nowhere and score runs. 2017 was a year of Smith. He battered every bowler he faced in test format from Ashwin to Aamir, from Anderson to Philander, from Boult to Broad. Nobody was spared from the bat which was weapon of mass destruction of Steve Smith.

All this makes that inning from Smith special. He single handily won the Australia first test and laid foundation to the most entertaining series of 2017. The whole series was of India vs Steve Smith. He was beaten several times- Inside edges, outside edges, plays and misses but he survived. He stuck to his basics which is not sticking to the basics, it worked for him. Australia won the test match.

His Test average is only next to the one man- Sir Donald Bradman. Crickets greatest ever. No human is allowed to have stats like Bradman but Smith is not Bradman because he scores them with enviable consistency.

Smith’s international journey started in 2010 and he was a fringe player till 2013. He was a bowler who could bat a bit. But deep down Smith knew, he was a batsman who had to bowl because to get into the Australian team as a pure batsman was tough. So he had to make himself a sellable package. A bowler who can bat a bit. A gun fielder. But his starting years were tough, slowly people started understanding that the leg spinner they are searching in Smithy as a replacement of Warne, is not a leg spinner itself. The mask was falling. So it was a tough going for him. People started questioning his presence in the team. Smith had to do something to save his spot. So nonchalantly he just shifted himself from a bowler to a batsman. As easy as it sounds, it is ridiculously tough. You simply don’t change your skills, it takes time, and it takes enormous amount of efforts and practice.

We all see Smith walking across the stumps and flick the ball through the cow corner nonchalantly. It combines sir Viv’s power and Peterson’s audacity. But on every morning of the test you can spot Smith flicking the balls without wearing his pads. Survival teaches you a lot and when the fear of getting hurt is there, you try that extra to avoid getting hurt. When Smith flick’s the ball without pads it helps the muscle memory in the match situation. So when the team was down and out in Brisbane against the arch rivals England. Smith once again proved his mettle, scored a scintillating ton and set the base for Australia’s successful Ashes campaign.

He averages 63.76. Next to only the mythological God Bradman. We as a cricket fan know that one cannot achieve what Bradman has in the past. His stats not only tell u that he was the best ever.  You look at his stats, and you rub your eyes in disbelief. Nobody in the history of this game even came close to that mythological figure. Not even Tendulkar, not Lara, not Ponting, not Sangakkara. These people are not only great batsmen but they are the most technically sound players ever. Their defence is picturesque and their cover drives are one to savour upon.

So when a certain Smith comes with his dodgy technique reaches the average of 63 with 21 hundreds, it’s a slap to those who thinks that technique is everything. At the end of his career, Smith may not be able to maintain his bradmansque average but what he has proved that if you work hard enough then batting technique may not be the barrier.

If as a batsman you can hit the ball with ease to wherever you want. If you believe in yourself to bring the unorthodox and ridiculed batting technique and dominate the world then you can probably do anything in the world.

And just when you felt that he was untouchable, the ball tampering saga broke him in pieces.

Enough has been said against Smith regarding this controversy. So I won’t dwell much further on that. It’s an old saying that “When they did one last mistake, don’t forget all the right things they did”.

It was a landmark year for Smith and the way he is batted in whites, don’t be surprised if he continues on his merry ways. What Smith does is an insult to everything we are taught, to the beauty of what we called an art of batting. It is not eye catching but it yields runs, bucketful of runs.

So when he, pulls up his right and left pad, adjusts his thigh pad, adjusts his inner thigh pad, checks his box, tightens his helmet straps, lessens his wristband, a bit of glove love, stares at the pitch, marks his guard and whips the ball from the off stump to the mid-wicket boundary then grab yourself a beer and just watch a modern master, flawed genius at its very best.

He will be back soon.

Steve Smith was given a one-year ban by Cricket Australia following his involvement in the ball-tampering scandal that rocked Australian cricket. South Africa’s Heinrich Klaasen will replace Steve Smith in the Rajasthan Royals’ squad for the 11th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL)

To read the Full Preview of Indian Premier League 2018 (IPL) Teams & Combinations :- Click Here

 

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Writer :- Deu Gaichor

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