What’s the story?
From a leg spinner who batted low down the order to the world’s leading Test batsman, Steve Smith’s journey has been a fairy tale ride. No one could have imagined the sprightly leggie to improve his batting the way he has done. Now, he is being mentioned in the same breath as legends of the game, with praise pouring from all quarters for his unconventional, yet highly effective batting.
Former Australian batsman, and the head coach of Gujarat Lions, Brad Hodge has said that Smith could eventually surpass the likes of Sachin Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting in century count.
“Forty or 50 is not out of reach, I don’t reckon…He’s a superstar. I think he’ll go on to close down the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting.”
Ever since being added to the Australian side as a batsman in 2013, he has been in stupendous form. He made his first Test century in the 2013 Ashes, and in the next three years and a half has added nineteen more to his tally.
In the 2016/17 season, Smith has five centuries to his credit in 10 Tests, scoring runs at an impressive average of 76.
The heart of the matter
Hodge heaped praise on Steve Smith’s progression, stating that the scoring 20 Test centuries is no mean feat, and with time on his side, claiming that there is no reason why he cannot challenge Ricky Ponting or Sachin Tendulkar’s century counts.
Hodge observed that Smith had been scoring a century every three Tests, and with the rate he is going, he could easily reach Ponting’s tally of 41, and eventually set sights on Tendulkar’s all-time record of 51.
With age on his side (Smith is 27), Hodge believes that if Smith can continue playing till even 35, he can carve out a memorable career and challenge the best.
The current series ends with the Dharamsala Test, and the focus for Steve Smith will now shift to the IPL, where he will don the captaincy role for Rising Pune Supergiant.
Smith has been a revelation with the bat in the last few seasons, and has shown that a watertight technique isn’t the only way to succeed in international cricket. If he continues in the same vein, he does have a realistic chance of usurping Ricky Ponting to become his country’s highest century scorer. His only concern, however, will be the dying value of Test cricket, and the receding number of Tests every year might be the biggest hindrance in Smith closing in on Tendulkar.