The Case of Mr. Steve Smith

Steven Peter Devereux Smith in 73 Tests has scored 7227 Runs, including 26 Centuries, at an Average of 62.84. Virat Kohli in 86 Tests has scored 7240 Runs, including 27 Centuries, at an Average of 53.62. A difference of 13 Tests has caused a difference of 13 Runs! The undoubtable talent is further evident from the fact, apart from an obvious D.G. Bradman, M. Labuschagne is the only one with a better Average [63.43] than Smith in Tests. Of course, Labuschagne has played 14 Tests. V. Kambli [17 Tests; Average: 54.20] doesn’t beat M.E.K. Hussey [79 Tests; Average: 51.52]! The conclusion being, none of these statistics defines the human. There is so, so much more at play in a Test.

We remember, in Test No. 2300 [South Africa v. Australia, Cape Town, March 2018], Smith scored 12 Runs. He would return for Test No. 2353 [England v. Australia, Birmingham, August 2019], scoring 286 Runs. This remains just the 4th time in Test History that a Batsman exceeded 140 twice in the same Test! What was he returning from? In Test No. 2355 [England v. Australia, London, August 2019], Smith scored 92 Runs. He would return for Test No. 2360 [England v. Australia, Manchester, September 2019], scoring 293 Runs. What was he returning from?

Between Test No. 2300 & Test No. 2353, Smith was ‘embarrassed’, ‘sorry’, ‘devastated’, ‘in a pretty dark space’. Ian Gould [Relevant TV Umpire] still has the balls that were used in Test No. 2300, locked away in a London safe. Perhaps, they shall remain locked. Between Test No. 2355 & Test No. 2360, Smith declared on StemGuards, “I have tried them before and I tried it again the other day… I feel claustrophobic”. He did use them, eventually. If these two stories doesn’t define an indomitable spirit, what does?

Smith’s two-year leadership ban ended in March, 2020. He is eligible again to captain Australia. Kohli, as a Test captain, has an Average of 61.21. The highest of anyone with more than 3000 Runs, with the ‘predictable exception’, as described, of Smith [70.36] and Bradman [101.51].

Human History is replete with instances of an attempt to come back from an error. It is certainly an art, not easy to master and not everyone is destined to achieve. It is a pleasure to watch Smith, the Batsman, bat without a clever plan. He keeps moving the body, while at the crease, to keep the guesses alive. It is even a greater pleasure to watch Smith, the Fielder. The concentration is something to learn from. We hope, the journey doesn’t ever end. Smith has promises to keep, and miles to go before sleep…

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