September 16, 2013

The Smithsonians

Men with a popular surname who have scored international hundreds

Graeme Smith
Pride of place in the clan goes to South Africa's imposing opener, who has scored 26 centuries in Tests already, and ten more in one-day internationals. He's also the only man - of any name - who has captained in more than 100 Test matches. Smith's technique is not the prettiest but, as sweating bowlers everywhere will tell you, they'd actually rather be sending them down at someone else.

Collie Smith
One of the great unfulfilled talents, O'Neil "Collie" Smith might have made the exciting West Indian sides of the 1960s just about unbeatable. He was a carefree Jamaican batsman - and useful offspinner - who was killed in a road accident in 1959, when only 26. Garry Sobers, who was driving the car, never forgot his old mate, who he thought was an even better batsman than he was himself. In his short 26-Test career Collie had already made four hundreds, including one against Australia on debut in 1954-55, and two 160-plus scores in England in 1957.

Mike Smith
Genial Mike Smith was a fine all-round sportsman - he played international rugby as well as cricket - and was the last Englishman to score 3000 runs in a season, piling up 3245 in 1959. "MJK" captained England in exactly half his 50 Tests, and scored three centuries (plus two 99s, a 98 and a 96). He was also a predatory presence at short leg, despite wearing glasses throughout his career.

Dwayne Smith
It looked as if a new star had been born when the Barbadian Dwayne Smith marked his first Test, in Cape Town in January 2004, by biffing a century in 93 balls - the fastest by any debutant at the time (Shikhar Dhawan beat it in 2013). But nine further Tests produced a highest score of only 42, and these days Smith is a Twenty20 gun for hire.

Ian Smith
The jovial New Zealand wicketkeeper Ian Smith was a handy batsman when he got his eye in. He already had a hundred against England to his name when India arrived early in 1990 and, after playing the junior role in a big partnership with Richard Hadlee in Auckland, "Stockley" opened out. He took a liking to Atul Wassan's bowling, hammering 24 off one over, and zoomed to 173 - still the Test record for a No. 9 - from only 136 balls. Smith remembered the "the changing levels of confidence showing on the Indians' faces as the afternoon wore on and jubilation turned to frustration", as New Zealand recovered from 131 for 7 to reach 391.

Tuppy Owen-Smith
South Africa may have lost the 1929 series in England, but provided one of the highlights in the third Test at Headingley when 20-year-old Harold "Tuppy" Owen-Smith stroked a carefree century, much of it in a last-wicket partnership of 103 in 65 minutes. His innings included a hundred before lunch on the third day. But it was his only Test series: Owen-Smith studied medicine at Oxford, and actually captained England at rugby in the 1930s.

Steve Smith (1)
The only man on this list who didn't score a Test century - his pair of hundreds came in one-day internationals in Melbourne and Sydney - Steve Smith was a compact opening batsman from New South Wales whose only three Tests came against the fearsome West Indian pace barrage in 1983-84, after which he disqualified himself for a while by joining a rebel tour to South Africa.

Steve Smith (2)
There were those who thought that Steve Smith - a late addition to Australia's 2013 Ashes squad - was overplaced at No. 6 in the batting order. So it was a surprise when he was promoted to No. 5 at The Oval... and he made the critics eat their words with an individualistic maiden hundred, reached with a straight six. Smith, who also bowls useful legspin, went on to make 138 not out and book a place in the winter's return bout.

Robin Smith
For much of his career Robin Smith seemed to be fending off brutish bouncers from big fast bowlers - but he got his revenge, in the form of a savage square-cut, often enough to rack up nine centuries in 62 Tests, as well as four more in one-day internationals - including 167 not out against Australia at Edgbaston in 1993, which remains England's highest in ODIs (they still lost, though).

Devon Smith
A slender left-hander from Grenada, Devon Smith made a fine century against England in only his fifth Test, in Kingston in 2003-04 - but 28 further caps produced no more hundreds, although he's still around, being part of the side for the one-day Champions Trophy in England earlier this year. He has made a single one-day hundred too (against Ireland).

A slight cheat to include him, yes... but contemporaries at Cambridge found "Kumar Shri Ranjitsinhji" a bit of mouthful at first, and christened their new Indian friend "Smith". Everyone soon settled on "Ranji", and he was to become a prolific scorer in English first-class cricket: the first to score 3000 runs in a season, with 3159 in 1899, Ranji proved it wasn't a fluke with 3065 more the following year. By then he had also made 154 not out on his Test debut, against Australia at Old Trafford in 1896, and added 175 in his first Test in Australia, in 1897-98.

Steven Lynch is the editor of the Wisden Guide to International Cricket 2013. Ask Steven is now on Facebook