As they say, rankings and personal milestones don’t matter when the team is winning. But what if it was because you hit a double century that your team won the biggest rivalry in the history of cricket? Steven Smith has proved that he is way ahead of his contemporaries when it comes to Test cricket. This might have only been Smith’s second double century in his Test career but it was a timely one as it helped his team win back the Ashes urn.
There are many who’ll argue that Virat Kohli has scored three double centuries and plenty of runs this year, but at times, statistics can be deceptive.
Before we get into the details, let’s take a look at the ICC Test Top 10 batsman –
Rank (+/-) Player Team Points Average
1 ( – ) Steven Smith Australia 945 62.32
2 ( – ) Virat Kohli India 893 53.75
3 (+1) Cheteshwar Pujara India 873 52.96
4 (+1) Kane Williamson New Zealand 855 50.62
5 (-2) Joe Root England 852 52.37
6 ( – ) David Warner Australia 801 47.97
7 ( – ) Hashim Amla South Africa 795 49.87
8 ( – ) Azhar Ali Pakistan 755 46.62
9 ( – ) Dinesh Chandimal Sri Lanka 743 43.94
10 ( – ) Ross Taylor New Zealand 739 48.04
With 945 rating points, Smith is now second only to Sir Don Bradman as far as rating points are concerned. Smith scored the second double century of his Test career at Perth’s bouncy pitch, dismantling the English bowling lineup which comprised of world’s No 1 bowler James Anderson as well as Stuart Broad and Craig Overton.
Smith has been a consistent performer in 2017, scoring 1,127 runs and counting. He has scored quite a few centuries against England, India and Pakistan, and also played a few crucial innings in the testing weather of Bangladesh. To score three centuries in Indian conditions (including one at Pune) is no child’s play for an Australian cricketer.
On the other hand, Kohli has been toying with bowlers and shattering records against lowly bowling lineups, amassing 1,059 runs. Kohli definitely possesses the talent and is in a splendid form, but it will be safe to say that Kohli has not really been tested against quality bowling lineups and when he was, he faltered big time. In the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, he could only score 46 runs from 6 innings against a challenging bowling lineup compared to Smith’s tally of 499 runs in 8 innings.
One cannot counter the fact that he did not let English bowlers dominate, but, at the same time, he also struggled to turn the tracks against Aussie spinners — something which is not usual for quality Indian batsmen.
Orthodox vs Unorthodox:
There’s no denying that Smith’s technique is unorthodox, but that’s what makes him stand out. At first glance, he might look like a batsman who likes to play a lot towards the leg side but it isn’t true. Smith is well capable of working the ball towards the offside. Moving towards the off-stump rules out the possibility of edging the ball to the slips and getting trapped in front of the stumps to a certain extent.
The way Smith smothered the spin of the ball on the Pune pitch to playing strokes on the up at the WACA, Perth, has modified his cricket to suit the conditions.
Let’s take a look at Smith’s technique with his wide array of shots –
On the other hand, Kohli is more of an orthodox batsman depending on classical shots when it comes to Test cricket. There are a few shots like flicking the ball towards deep midwicket on the front foot but Kohli does seem close to a batsman who scores more with orthodox shots as compared to Smith.
Looking towards the future
With all eyes on India’s tour of South Africa in 2018, Kohli has a chance to prove his mettle on overseas pitches. If the Indian skipper manages to score on South African pitches, Smith has some serious competition coming his way.
P.S. When it comes to limited overs cricket, there is a role reversal between the two batsmen as Kohli is currently dominating in the shorter format of the game.