Australia captain Steven Smith is closer than ever before to matching Don Bradman as the top-rated batsman of all time, according to the ICC rankings for Test batsmen.
Smith, who scored 239 to lead Australia to regaining the Ashes in Perth, increased his ratings points tally from 938 to 945 at No. 1, surpassing his previous best of 941 after the first Ashes Test in Brisbane.
He is second on the all-time list along with former England batsman Len Hutton, and no one else apart from Bradman - who has 961 points - has ever achieved a higher tally.
Smith earned seven points after his performance at the WACA led Australia to victory by an innings and 41 runs, overtaking the highest career tallies of Peter May, Ricky Ponting and Jack Hobbs. His Test batting average of 62.32 is only behind Bradman's 99.94 on the list of best averages for batsmen who have played at least 20 innings. And he's number one currently ahead of India captain Virat Kohli by 52 ratings points. By the time the Boxing Day Ashes Test begins, Smith would have been at the No. 1 ranking for two years.
Reflecting on his double century, Smith said he had never felt better at the crease than the first part of his innings on the second day. "I think that first night I was on, as you say," he told ABC Radio. "I was in the zone, and everything hit the middle of the bat. I felt incredibly good...that first night was probably as good as I've felt."
Smith currently has 426 runs at 142.00 in the Ashes which also included his unbeaten 141 which set up Australia's opening victory in Brisbane. Darren Lehmann, Australia's coach, said Smith has taken his game to new level.
"He's running pretty hot isn't he? I've been lucky enough to see all of his Test hundreds. So for me, seeing him evolve from that first Test hundred at the Oval to now - he just changes his own plans to what the bowlers are doing and what the wicket's doing, and what the game needs. He's gone to another level, which is pleasing."