Australian captain Steve Smith is currently in the midst of an extended purple patch and there is hardly anything which can go wrong he wields the willow. Although his mannerisms at the crease are not entirely aesthetic, his solid temperament has allowed him to climb through the ranks and today he is one of the best batsmen in world cricket.
However, the ride was not always cosy for the Australian captain who made his debut as a leg-spinner who could contribute with the bat lower down the order.
Former Australian opening batsman Simon Katich who has known Smith right from his New South Wales days reflects on his career and singles out one innings he played during the 2013 Ashes at Perth which turned around his career for the better.
”His batting has gone to another level ever since he has taken over captaincy his average is almost 70 which is outstanding. He has made all these runs with a young team which is even more remarkable. He has tinkered with his game and the biggest change which has made is walking across the stumps. Well, I think it was the game against England in WACA in 2013 when he found his game. He was finding it awkward against the short ball and hence decided to play inside the line of the ball a bit more and this enabled him to go on and get a hundred. He has stuck to this technique ever since and now he is bossing the game across all three formats,” Katich told Sportskeeda.
Watch: Steve Smith’s career-defining 111 against England
Katich who has seen Smith from close quarters in New South Wales hits the nail on the head. During the 2013 Ashes series when England were tormented by Mitchell Johnson, Smith quietly established himself as an indispensable member of the team with the bat.
Before this match, Smith averaged a meagre 17.20 at the WACA and had to prove his detractors wrong. The stats towards the end of the day revealed that he had scored eighty of his runs through the leg side and he kept flicking the ball which was even remotely close to his off and middle stump. This is a testament to the fact that he shuffled across the crease and set himself up for the ball which were aimed at the stumps. This also allowed him to judge the balls which were outside the off stump.
He has since gone from strength to strength and has now established himself as one of the leading batsmen in world cricket.
“Every batsman keeps tinkering with his game to find the right balance and the fact that Smith did it during a game is even more remarkable. He feels comfortable with his technique and knows his game inside out. You only need to see him train in the nets and the way he hones his skills and you will know why he is so successful. That innings was career-defining in many ways,” Katich further added.
There have always been comparisons made between Virat Kohli, Steve Smith, Kane Williamson and Joe Root and Simon Katich throws in his opinion too.
“Well, I don't have to stick out my neck, Steve Smith is the best batsman and I would rank him above Kohli. But having said that all of the mentioned players are unique and brilliant in their own capacity and world cricket is sure to be enthralled in the coming years. They are all a great crop of players,” Katich said.