Steve Smith belongs to that category of players who started off their international career as a more promising spinner than a batsman, and later blossomed as sensational batsmen over the time. He is among the rare players whose career before takeoff struggled with demands of international cricket. He re-emerged with different look, different style and obviously with a new role.
Steve Smith, the 26 year old Aussie is the new sensation who registered his name with Sanath Jayasuriya and Virendra Sehwag, spinners turned batsmen.
Steve Smith, who was denied a maiden double hundred by just one run by Jerome Taylor at the Sabina Park in Kingston, Jamaica, is among the seven batsmen who scored more than one thousands runs in Test cricket in last one year.
Smith made his ODI debut in 2010 against West Indies and Test against Pakistan in the same year. The 21 year old had started his career more as leg spinner. He was not impressive in his ODI debut against West Indies, took two wicket conceding 78 runs. His Test debut in England against Pakistan at Lord’s also did not go well, as he scored only one run coming at no.6.
It was altogether different phase for the New South Wales man who started off his domestic career in 2007. But it was only in 2009-2010 his glittering domestic show, comprising four hundreds in Sheffield Shield and career best haul seven for 64, earned him a place in the Australian team. However, he failed to drench in international cricket. There was always a apprehension when he made his debut at 21 that he may succumb to the pressure. Yes, he could not get rid of the pressure, he succumbed.
Selectors lost hope in him, but he was born with a mind of steel.
Not to forget his rise in IPL 2012. Royal Challengers Bangaluru released him; he was unsold during the auction. But now defunct Pune Warriors India had probably had no doubt about his potential. Deep Dasgupta had gone for him. Smith, the late bloomer, did not disappoint the franchise, aggregated 362 runs and become their leading run scorer. But it was his athlete like fielding skills which created a buzz in the IPL than his batting.
He returned to domestic cricket, led Sidney Sixers to the Big Bash championship title 2012. Australia was going through the transition phase, called him the for the India tour. But he was overlooked for the first two Tests. 2-0 down Australia were giving him the long waited chance in the Mohali Test, he did not squander the second opportunity, scored a prolific 92 runs in losing cause. However, this time batsman Smith grabbed the attention of Aussie selectors. His quick feet comfortably handled intimidating Indian spinners.
Following a 4-0 humiliation at the hand of India, Australia were looking for inevitable reformation in the team. Cricket Australia appointed Darren Lehman as new coach. The former left handed batsman made clear to the selectors, he wants Smith in the ranks. Selectors agreed. Since then Smith lifted himself to a level from where a player only can see the sky limit. Smith was allotted the no. 6 position, notched up maiden Test hundred, aggregated 345 runs. The rise of classic right-hand batsman took off from the historic Ashes. But, again he finished off in wrong side as Australia lost to England 1-3.
Disappointment continued for Australia, badly a needed a man who can revenge the Ashes defeat to England Down Under. Smith rose on the occasion along with fiery Mitchell Johnson, scoring couple of hundreds. Overwhelmed by Smith’s sound techniques and stroke play, former batsman Mark Waugh once said “Smith is the most exciting talent,” of current generation of players.
Smith continued his dream form. Coming into the Border- Gavaskar trophy, Smith has caused nightmare to Indian bowlers. He started achieving one feat after another. His hundred in four consecutive Tests placed him in elite zone with greats – Don Bradman, Neil Harvey, Jack Fingleton and Matthew Hayden. He achieved another feat which never achieved anyone before – 769 runs in a series involving four Tests is the most by a batsman in the history of Test cricket.
The one time discard is now being considered as successor of Michael Clarke in Test as well. He captained Australia in three Tests after Clarke had been ruled out of the Border Gavaskar series and led from the front, scoring three consecutive hundreds in three Tests. He was even preferred over more experienced Brad Haddin. He was also the leading run aggregator for Australia during the world cup with 402 runs. He became first batsman to score a fifty in the quarterfinal, a hundred in the semi-final, and fifty in the final of the world cup. He also becomes the first Australian batsman to score a hundred in world cup semifinal. Smith did not forget to give credit to IPL when he was asked about the effect of the richest T20 league of the world in his career, he said, “It’s a great tournament to be involved in. I have to pay a lot of credit to the IPL for where I am today, particularly in one-day cricket,” he was quoted as saying in IPLT20 website.
The culmination of one phenomenon called Steve Smith is expected when Australia will take on England for the Ashes defense in England. However, definitely the English soil will test the prolific run scorer once again.