In early 2016 we crafted a post, deciding that Donald Bradman was the unofficial GOAT of any sport.
With an average of 99.4, Bradman is easily the greatest cricketer to have ever graced a field. What makes it so astounding, is how far ahead of any rivals he is.
Steve Smith, fresh off crushing the English 3-0 in his first Ashes as captain, is playing some of the best cricket we have seen in the modern era.
In his fifty nine test matches, Steve Smith is averaging 62.32, has scored twenty two centuries with a total of 5,796 runs.
These sort of numbers are near impossible in a cricketing climate that has shifted to include the shorter formats of the game into players’ schedules.
Players at the top of their game have to split their time between; International Test matches, One Days (including the World Cup and Champions Trophy), T20 (with a World Cup), the Indian Premier League, and the Big Bash.
This means that your technique for test matches is altered by the requirements of a quicker paced environment. Many have struggled to merely concentrate for five days when transitioning from the short form of the game.
Not Smith however.
Besides the twenty eight year old Australian’s stupendous numbers, his technique is being compared to the Great Bradman, as both are incredibly unconventional.
The MCC cricketing manual encourages players to pick their bat up straight, and play straight down the ground when the ball is pitched up. This minimises opportunity for mistakes as you are not playing across the line of the delivery.
Smith and Bradman, however, have a back-lift that points to gully or third slip.
This – besides requiring wonderful hand-eye coordination – means that the bat performs a figure-of-eight when meeting the ball through the stroke.
Youngsters would never be taught this, as it is simply not the conventional technique.
Yet, when the two best ever batsmen have adopted this method, you have to ask; ‘why not?’
Steve Smith throughout the whole of 2017, did not look like ever getting out. When the ball is bowled, his pads are covering the stumps.
Ask the England bowlers, there doesn’t seem to be a weakness in his technique to exploit.
Couple that with focus that we have only seen from Jordan Spieth at Birkdale this year, and you have a wonderful cricketer.
Will he break Bradman’s average numbers? Most likely no.
Are we witnessing one of the best of all time? Absolutely yes.