England v Australia, 5th Investec Test, The Oval, 2nd day August 22, 2013

Smith shows a ton of learning

Steven Smith has shown more development than any other young Australia batsmen this year and after missing out at Old Trafford now has a hundred to show for it
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It was fitting that Steven Smith brought up his maiden Test century with cricket's equivalent of a home run, for at times he looks more a baseballer than a cricketer. He gets batters out with full tosses, takes one-handed catches and, when the bowler runs in, stands with his bat bobbing up and down ready for a big wind-up. When he clubbed Jonathan Trott over long-on to move from 94 to 100, he rode the shot and punched the air like he'd hit a World Series-winning grand slam.

There is much about Smith that seems made for the short formats. Like others of his age, he emerged in the Big Bash before first-class cricket. He has played nearly twice as many Twenty20 matches as four-day games. Smith is a more compulsive twitcher than Bill Oddie. Between deliveries he taps his helmet, left pad, box, right pad, thigh pad, helmet again, glove, right pad again. It is tempting to think he is a man with no attention span, a pyjama cricketer.

That would be unfair. Batsmen cannot stay alert non-stop for long periods, they must switch off between deliveries, reset their brains. Habits and rituals help maintain that focus; Trott walks halfway to square leg, Alastair Cook marks his guard and twirls his bat, Smith fidgets. More important is his stability and balance at the crease and apart from his nodding bat, he is much stiller than he once was.

It was notable that when Chris Rogers wrote last year of the flawed techniques of many of Australia's young batsmen, including Phillip Hughes, Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh and Callum Ferguson, he singled out Smith as a man who seemed "to be sorting things out". Notably, his six over Trott's head to reach a hundred was not a slog, it was a through-the-line drive, smart and relatively safe against a part-timer.

It is no wonder Smith was pumped at achieving the milestone, for he might have felt his chance had slipped after a horrible cross-batted swipe ended his innings on 89 at Old Trafford. When the coach Darren Lehmann spoke of batsmen needing to play straight after the collapse at Chester-le-Street and of careers being on the line at The Oval, without naming names, it was clear that Smith was one of the men under pressure.

In many ways he was lucky to be here. In many ways he has had a lucky year full-stop. Smith was part of Australia's 17-man squad for the tour of India in February-March but seemed the least likely to play; instead, he got his chances after the homework suspensions and showed his class against spin with 92 in Mohali and 46 in Delhi. Still, it wasn't enough to earn him a Cricket Australia contract for the 2013-14 season, or a place in the original Ashes squad.

But Smith was added to the touring party ahead of the first Test, when the captain Michael Clarke was battling his ongoing back injury, and having scored 133 for Australia A against Ireland, he pressed his case further with runs in the tour match in Worcestershire. Suddenly, he had jumped from outside the squad in front of Khawaja and the banished David Warner and found himself in the side for the first Test.

Still, in the lead-up to this match he had shown glimpses without grabbing his chances, and was averaging 25 for the series. But the selectors gave him another opportunity - one that was not afforded Khawaja, Hughes or Ed Cowan - and he nearly threw it away first ball with an ill-considered slash outside off that was lucky not to have been edged behind. It was the shot of a man feeling the pressure, but gradually Smith calmed his nerves and found his rhythm, leaving and playing on merit.

He showed some fight, and that was what Lehmann wanted after the Durham debacle. Smith survived for 567 minutes - nearly enough time for three full Twenty20 matches - before Clarke declared with him on 138. At 24, he was Australia's youngest Ashes centurion since Ricky Ponting. He has also become Australia's second-highest Test run scorer this year, with 499 at 41.58. Only Clarke has made more, or faced more deliveries, or passed fifty more times.

In the latter part of his innings, as the declaration approached, he brought out a few baseball shots. There was even the occasional overhead smash - not surprisingly, Smith was a talented junior tennis player. But importantly, for most of Smith's innings he played not tennis nor baseball but cricket. Test cricket. The No.5 position is now his. He has earned it.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY Barnesy4444 on | August 23, 2013, 2:03 GMT

    Smith has been allowed to play his natural game and develop it at his own pace. Contrast that to another young player mentioned in this article, Phil Hughes. His natural game is very strong through the off side, Steyn, Morkel and Kallis can attest to that.

    However Hughes was told to totally change his natural game or not be selected. This has exposed gaping technical holes while also sapping his confidence to play his natural aggressive off side shots. Shots that made bowlers fear being even a little off target.

    I think there is a lesson here for CA in how to groom young batsmen.

  • POSTED BY CustomKid on | August 22, 2013, 23:28 GMT

    Well done young fella. A well deserved hundred especially after the 92 in mohali where he batted really well and just fell short. If he can tighten his defensive side of his game up I think he'll develop in to a solid long format cricketer. Can bowl a little, very good in the field, and now showing a bit with the stick. Now to back it up on the home leg.

  • POSTED BY latecut_04 on | August 23, 2013, 10:10 GMT

    We shouldnt get carried away with this batting performance.England had the habit of winning dead Ashes tests throughout 90s(remember all those 3-1 or even 4-1 scorelines.)Did anyof those batsmen/bowlers go on to become 'next' gen England.A generation of England team struggled.Agreed Aus is not that bad(just look at their home record or even this series they have fought well )But batsmen have failed to deliver when needed.All these lads had their chance of a lifetime during last match 2nd innings.I am not being cynical or doing Aus bashing.Just asking for the right perspective especially regarding the likes of Watto..

  • POSTED BY Sathyasing on | August 23, 2013, 9:16 GMT

    Matured innings played by a flamboyant player.Probably if groomed well ,we could see another michael Bevan.

  • POSTED BY on | August 23, 2013, 9:09 GMT

    Happy for Smith. I was so impressed with his 92 at Mohali and was equally shocked when he was not included in the original Ashes squad. Good century. This guy shows the willingness to learn and work hard, 2 important qualities in a youngster. Yeah, he has nailed the no. 5 spot atleast for the return series unless ofcourse Mr Lehmann messes it up even more

  • POSTED BY Bonehead_maz on | August 23, 2013, 7:58 GMT

    @ Posted by xtrafalgarx on (August 23, 2013, 4:12 GMT) can't believe McDonald's that good a bowler - all his perceptions Rogers was repeating ?

  • POSTED BY ravi_hari on | August 23, 2013, 7:56 GMT

    First of all Big Ciongrats to Smith. A job very well done. He has been the most consistant batsman on this tour. Though he was not the first choice No.5. The more you look at him the more you feel you are looking at a young Steve Waugh. In his early days Steve Waugh also had a lot of technical deficiencies and was more a bowler allrounder than a batsman. He over came all deficincies and became the backbone of the Aus team and eventually led them from the front as captain. If Smith continues to perform and works on his technique he can become another Steve Waugh. Batting at No. 5, he is ideally positined to become one. Captaincy or not, he seems to be the future of the team At 24, he has all the time in the world to develop his game and serve the team for a long period. I would like to see the same kind of approach by Shaun Marsh. I feel Warner, Marsh, Smith and Wade are the future of Aus. If they work on their technique and attitude, they can see the Aus team marching back to the top.

  • POSTED BY DylanBrah on | August 23, 2013, 6:56 GMT

    Come on guys, stop with the Steve Smith future captain talk. While I am relieved he's scored his maiden century, I'd like to see him do it consistently and push his average up to 40-45 before we talk about him being Clarke's successor.

  • POSTED BY ab_cricket on | August 23, 2013, 5:51 GMT

    Smith Should become the next Australian Captain. He has those instincts and mental strength to become a good captain. I would go one step further and say he'll become a better captain than Clarke. He should definitely be Australia's Captain in the World Cup '15

  • POSTED BY satzzz on | August 23, 2013, 4:47 GMT

    This year will always be special as the so called talented players(like SIR Jadeja, Steve Smith, Bell, Rohit Sharma, Ravi Bopara, Sammy, all pak bowlers) are finally showing their potentials. These men were behind so many criticisms(rather jokes) for just being tagged 'talented' but not delivering. They are showing the world what 'talent' really means.

    Mind you guys, even the man who made the format his own has scored his 1st century only in his 79th match. I am not comparing these folks with the greatest batsman of all time. But during his initial stage even Sachin was trusted with the talent he possessed rather than the stats to back him up unlike now.

    Hope these young brigades continue their form and create a brand for themselves in test cricket.

  • POSTED BY Barnesy4444 on | August 23, 2013, 2:03 GMT

    Smith has been allowed to play his natural game and develop it at his own pace. Contrast that to another young player mentioned in this article, Phil Hughes. His natural game is very strong through the off side, Steyn, Morkel and Kallis can attest to that.

    However Hughes was told to totally change his natural game or not be selected. This has exposed gaping technical holes while also sapping his confidence to play his natural aggressive off side shots. Shots that made bowlers fear being even a little off target.

    I think there is a lesson here for CA in how to groom young batsmen.

  • POSTED BY CustomKid on | August 22, 2013, 23:28 GMT

    Well done young fella. A well deserved hundred especially after the 92 in mohali where he batted really well and just fell short. If he can tighten his defensive side of his game up I think he'll develop in to a solid long format cricketer. Can bowl a little, very good in the field, and now showing a bit with the stick. Now to back it up on the home leg.

  • POSTED BY latecut_04 on | August 23, 2013, 10:10 GMT

    We shouldnt get carried away with this batting performance.England had the habit of winning dead Ashes tests throughout 90s(remember all those 3-1 or even 4-1 scorelines.)Did anyof those batsmen/bowlers go on to become 'next' gen England.A generation of England team struggled.Agreed Aus is not that bad(just look at their home record or even this series they have fought well )But batsmen have failed to deliver when needed.All these lads had their chance of a lifetime during last match 2nd innings.I am not being cynical or doing Aus bashing.Just asking for the right perspective especially regarding the likes of Watto..

  • POSTED BY Sathyasing on | August 23, 2013, 9:16 GMT

    Matured innings played by a flamboyant player.Probably if groomed well ,we could see another michael Bevan.

  • POSTED BY on | August 23, 2013, 9:09 GMT

    Happy for Smith. I was so impressed with his 92 at Mohali and was equally shocked when he was not included in the original Ashes squad. Good century. This guy shows the willingness to learn and work hard, 2 important qualities in a youngster. Yeah, he has nailed the no. 5 spot atleast for the return series unless ofcourse Mr Lehmann messes it up even more

  • POSTED BY Bonehead_maz on | August 23, 2013, 7:58 GMT

    @ Posted by xtrafalgarx on (August 23, 2013, 4:12 GMT) can't believe McDonald's that good a bowler - all his perceptions Rogers was repeating ?

  • POSTED BY ravi_hari on | August 23, 2013, 7:56 GMT

    First of all Big Ciongrats to Smith. A job very well done. He has been the most consistant batsman on this tour. Though he was not the first choice No.5. The more you look at him the more you feel you are looking at a young Steve Waugh. In his early days Steve Waugh also had a lot of technical deficiencies and was more a bowler allrounder than a batsman. He over came all deficincies and became the backbone of the Aus team and eventually led them from the front as captain. If Smith continues to perform and works on his technique he can become another Steve Waugh. Batting at No. 5, he is ideally positined to become one. Captaincy or not, he seems to be the future of the team At 24, he has all the time in the world to develop his game and serve the team for a long period. I would like to see the same kind of approach by Shaun Marsh. I feel Warner, Marsh, Smith and Wade are the future of Aus. If they work on their technique and attitude, they can see the Aus team marching back to the top.

  • POSTED BY DylanBrah on | August 23, 2013, 6:56 GMT

    Come on guys, stop with the Steve Smith future captain talk. While I am relieved he's scored his maiden century, I'd like to see him do it consistently and push his average up to 40-45 before we talk about him being Clarke's successor.

  • POSTED BY ab_cricket on | August 23, 2013, 5:51 GMT

    Smith Should become the next Australian Captain. He has those instincts and mental strength to become a good captain. I would go one step further and say he'll become a better captain than Clarke. He should definitely be Australia's Captain in the World Cup '15

  • POSTED BY satzzz on | August 23, 2013, 4:47 GMT

    This year will always be special as the so called talented players(like SIR Jadeja, Steve Smith, Bell, Rohit Sharma, Ravi Bopara, Sammy, all pak bowlers) are finally showing their potentials. These men were behind so many criticisms(rather jokes) for just being tagged 'talented' but not delivering. They are showing the world what 'talent' really means.

    Mind you guys, even the man who made the format his own has scored his 1st century only in his 79th match. I am not comparing these folks with the greatest batsman of all time. But during his initial stage even Sachin was trusted with the talent he possessed rather than the stats to back him up unlike now.

    Hope these young brigades continue their form and create a brand for themselves in test cricket.

  • POSTED BY Shaggy076 on | August 23, 2013, 4:45 GMT

    I know there is long way to go yet but I liken Steve Smith to how Steve Waugh started out his career. An over confident stroke player with a different technique, having been dropped from the side he has learned like Steve Waugh what shots he can and cant play and make the bowlers bowl him to him. Steve Waugh to the end never had a great technique but had a determined mind eclipsing his lack of technique, hopefully Smith can follow this path and if he is 75-80% player of Steve Waugh I'd be very happy.

  • POSTED BY PrasPunter on | August 23, 2013, 4:40 GMT

    I wont take the argument of his scoring this ton only on a flat track. Mind you, he weathered out tough bowling conditions early on day 2 when the ball was darting all around. I think we have found a No 5 at-last. Good on you Smithy !!!

  • POSTED BY xtrafalgarx on | August 23, 2013, 4:12 GMT

    WOW!! I can't believe how accurate Chris Rogers' article was, even though it was written so long ago. I hope , instead of just staying quiet i hope he tells them of their problems though. Dead right about khawaja's back foot and how edgy he really is, though Hughesy looks like he is working on it. Great knock by smudge, hope this is the first of many!!

  • POSTED BY WAKE_UP_CALL on | August 23, 2013, 4:03 GMT

    Oh smithy you beauty.Though people make fun of your lack of technique but there is no denying in the fact that you have that Never Say Die attitude which was seen in India (a place for aussie to show real strength) and now in ashes.You are here to stay.Ian bell took more than 7 years that too at home and here you are to show what you ve got. With little improvement in your bowling and the excellent fielder you are Australia has got a complete package which can pick himself easliy at 5 or 6 slot.I had seen that temperament of yours in an ipl match 2012 vs Dhoni's csk when you showed you belong here.Australia has got a player who can absorb pressure which they were lacking.Critics will give excuses like flat track or fluke but make no mistake he can play spin in india and bouncy pitches in australia which many players don't have in their stomach.

  • POSTED BY smudgeon on | August 23, 2013, 4:00 GMT

    After his first dig at Test cricket, I decided I'd seen enough of him to last a lifetime: cocky, over-rated, the kind of bits-n-pieces cricketer not cut out for the longest format. Happy to eat my words. In fact, after that Test in India, I was already reaching for the BBQ sauce. I imagine that cockiness/confidence married up well with his desire to work hard to give us the cricketer we have today. I'll keep the superlatives in check, but I genuinely think that he's got a foot in the door of a long Test career.

  • POSTED BY Not_Another_Keybored_Expert on | August 23, 2013, 3:48 GMT

    Well done smith, Although this track was flat you're 92 in India shows you are developing into quite a versatile batsman.

  • POSTED BY dunger.bob on | August 23, 2013, 3:38 GMT

    Smith is coming along nicely. He's a different player these days. More mature and patient than he was the last time he was in England. .. He's an ugly duckling as a batsman, but does that actually matter. His technique looks loose and impulsive but he seems to get everything in line more often then not. .. Rogers is right about him being the one young Aussie batsman to show some real development in the last few seasons. I like him at 5 because he has got a few gears to call on. He seems content to survive the awkward periods by leaving as much as possible but at the same time he usually punishes those precious loose balls. .. I think he was told to stay there till the declaration today because he didn't really put the pedal down, not like he can.

    England have Bell. Maybe Smith is our answer to that cracking little player. Not yet of course, but I think he's one of our younger blokes who IS heading in the right direction. Long may it continue.

    England have Bell, we have Smith

  • POSTED BY DylanBrah on | August 23, 2013, 3:04 GMT

    This was a pretty flat track, make no mistake. But at least we have some stability heading into the return Ashes. I would say our top 6 is pretty safe, but perhaps Haddin should move down to no.7, and Maddinson brought in at 6.

  • POSTED BY Enoughchat on | August 23, 2013, 1:26 GMT

    For all of you old enough to remember Steve Waugh received an absolute hammering from the press when he started his test career.There was even an TV ad that referred to "the so called allrounder" in not so flattering terms directed at him. This team is not so different as the team from the 80's

    So everyone take a breath and give these young guys a chance. I see it as an exciting time as we are going to see some young talent shine thru shortly (we are seeing glimpse now).

  • POSTED BY regofpicton on | August 23, 2013, 1:09 GMT

    Told you so! Told you so!! Told you so!!!

  • POSTED BY TheBigBoodha on | August 23, 2013, 0:43 GMT

    Smith has been very slowly improving over the last few seasons. So he kind of snuck In under the radar. Many fans ridiculed him for years - and even certain unmentionable commentators around these parts. He's not yet a standout, but then neither were Cook, Trott, and Bell. They are just guys who work methodically on technique. Smith will never be that robotic, but like those guys he may well keep improving and become a very good test cricketer. Good on him.

  • POSTED BY cricbranthan on | August 23, 2013, 0:31 GMT

    great display of courage and positive batting ...real aussie style

  • POSTED BY Bonehead_maz on | August 22, 2013, 23:48 GMT

    I've always liked the way Smith goes about things. I am now liking him more and more. ( I TOTALLY forgive him for that shot at Manchester - team's need for fast runs, always out weighs personal milestones). I can't wait till he completes sorting out his batting and practices his bowling more.

    This guy is SERIOUSLY talented (just watch the speed of his hands through the ball AND him field !). I was surprised to hear a year or so back, some Australian players from the 1950's comparing his abilities positively with Richie Benaud at the same age. (not often you'll hear Harvey rating a modern !). Smith is not just a "better bowler, batsman and fieldsman" apparently (batters were for coating fish in those days lol), but clearly is also far more experienced.

    Amazing coincidence ? There's a Faulkner playing in this very match - Aubrey will be the only one we even compare with Smith in the end !

    PS I also think James Faulkner is better than AK Davidson was at the same age

  • POSTED BY Rowayton on | August 22, 2013, 23:38 GMT

    While it seems a popular theme in talking about Australian players, I think it is a dubious claim that Smith first made his name as a short form player. He was just another player until the 09/10 Sheffield Shield season when he scored four centuries in four day cricket. That is when people started taking him seriously. Long term, I reckon he is a far better Test than ODI prospect - he is at his best when he builds an innings rather than comes out firing. My prediction now - he will captain Australia in the 2017/18 Ashes series, batting at number 4.

  • POSTED BY Wefinishthis on | August 22, 2013, 22:59 GMT

    Great article again Brydon - you often write the most compelling stories here on cricinfo and are great with the stats. I think the India series showed that Smith had great potential, despite not scoring a hundred. It's still early days, but we may have just found our next captain!

  • POSTED BY Mitty2 on | August 22, 2013, 22:56 GMT

    Great article, I'm not even sure I'd have had him in this test! His temperament is much better, so too his technique, and he reads the match situation very well. Above all, finally a youngster performed - the first step to rebuilding. Always hard when you get smashed from pillar to post by fans and media because you've unfairly been labeled what you're not (a spinner) and you don't live up to unliveable expectations. But huge credit to Smith, he's gone and worked on everything, and right now he's reaped the rewards of hard work. Hughes has done this hard work, but right now it's the selectors and his mentality preventing him. After being compared to Bradman, like Smith who was linked to Warne, hopefully Hughes can use Smith's success as a pathway for his own success this summer.

  • POSTED BY Chris_P on | August 22, 2013, 22:20 GMT

    No one deserved success more than Smith following on from the work he has done to improve his technique. The other prodigies might want to take a page out of his book if they are serious about test cricket. Anyone who has been watching his improvement the past 2 years wouldn't be surprised, as the article noted, even Chris Rogers commented on it almost 18 months ago.

  • POSTED BY Dangertroy on | August 22, 2013, 22:19 GMT

    Good reward for someone who has been quite consistent this year, if he keeps up the consistency, he may well be earmarked as the next VC when Haddin retires. I remember thinking he was done for the test side when he declared he was a batsman last year, but he has done the hard work and it is showing. A lower order batsman who can bowl a bit? Clarke, Waugh, Border... Perhaps Smith could be the captain one day.

  • POSTED BY Maui3 on | August 22, 2013, 22:15 GMT

    This Ashes has hinted at what Aus team is capable of being, in next 3 years. Siddle, Cummins, Agar, Starc can be very good allrounders. Add to that watson and Smith and suddenly you have a 4 to 6 bowlers and a deep batting lineup. Their problem is to find recognised batsman who can justify being in the team as a batsman. Warner, Hughes, Khawaja all average in 30s, with nothing to contribute with the ball, with almost no hope of Hughes ever improving.

  • POSTED BY RahulPaTiL25 on | August 22, 2013, 22:12 GMT

    Its about time someone wrote about Smith. I still remember when he declared himself as a Batsman and how everyone was mocking him. I think hiscase in this series has proved a point that this man has talent to pull through on his own. think I his best innings would be that 96 against India as i haven't seen many good Aus players of spin apart from Clarke in the current squad. I think at 24 he will only get better with age and i think they should keep giving this lad opportunities to keep proving people wrong as he has been doing it right so far. All the best Smithy !

  • POSTED BY wellrounded87 on | August 22, 2013, 22:02 GMT

    I don't think Smith should keep the number 5 spot. I much rather see him at 6 playing a role similar to Hussey and move Clarke back to 5. Let's not forget Clarke averages something like 70 at number 5 and low 40's at 4. Why persist with this idea that he needs to move up the order. Clarke averaging 60+ @5 is always better than Clarke averaging 40 @ 4. You need your best player in his favoured position. Hughes to come in @ 4 is a reasonable solutionand if he fails perhaps blood some of the up and comers like Maddinson Doolan and Burns.

  • POSTED BY Someguy on | August 22, 2013, 21:57 GMT

    I for one was not surprised that he got there, just that it took him so long. I was also surprised after his performance in India that he was not included in the original squad.

  • POSTED BY Someguy on | August 22, 2013, 21:57 GMT

    I for one was not surprised that he got there, just that it took him so long. I was also surprised after his performance in India that he was not included in the original squad.

  • POSTED BY wellrounded87 on | August 22, 2013, 22:02 GMT

    I don't think Smith should keep the number 5 spot. I much rather see him at 6 playing a role similar to Hussey and move Clarke back to 5. Let's not forget Clarke averages something like 70 at number 5 and low 40's at 4. Why persist with this idea that he needs to move up the order. Clarke averaging 60+ @5 is always better than Clarke averaging 40 @ 4. You need your best player in his favoured position. Hughes to come in @ 4 is a reasonable solutionand if he fails perhaps blood some of the up and comers like Maddinson Doolan and Burns.

  • POSTED BY RahulPaTiL25 on | August 22, 2013, 22:12 GMT

    Its about time someone wrote about Smith. I still remember when he declared himself as a Batsman and how everyone was mocking him. I think hiscase in this series has proved a point that this man has talent to pull through on his own. think I his best innings would be that 96 against India as i haven't seen many good Aus players of spin apart from Clarke in the current squad. I think at 24 he will only get better with age and i think they should keep giving this lad opportunities to keep proving people wrong as he has been doing it right so far. All the best Smithy !

  • POSTED BY Maui3 on | August 22, 2013, 22:15 GMT

    This Ashes has hinted at what Aus team is capable of being, in next 3 years. Siddle, Cummins, Agar, Starc can be very good allrounders. Add to that watson and Smith and suddenly you have a 4 to 6 bowlers and a deep batting lineup. Their problem is to find recognised batsman who can justify being in the team as a batsman. Warner, Hughes, Khawaja all average in 30s, with nothing to contribute with the ball, with almost no hope of Hughes ever improving.

  • POSTED BY Dangertroy on | August 22, 2013, 22:19 GMT

    Good reward for someone who has been quite consistent this year, if he keeps up the consistency, he may well be earmarked as the next VC when Haddin retires. I remember thinking he was done for the test side when he declared he was a batsman last year, but he has done the hard work and it is showing. A lower order batsman who can bowl a bit? Clarke, Waugh, Border... Perhaps Smith could be the captain one day.

  • POSTED BY Chris_P on | August 22, 2013, 22:20 GMT

    No one deserved success more than Smith following on from the work he has done to improve his technique. The other prodigies might want to take a page out of his book if they are serious about test cricket. Anyone who has been watching his improvement the past 2 years wouldn't be surprised, as the article noted, even Chris Rogers commented on it almost 18 months ago.

  • POSTED BY Mitty2 on | August 22, 2013, 22:56 GMT

    Great article, I'm not even sure I'd have had him in this test! His temperament is much better, so too his technique, and he reads the match situation very well. Above all, finally a youngster performed - the first step to rebuilding. Always hard when you get smashed from pillar to post by fans and media because you've unfairly been labeled what you're not (a spinner) and you don't live up to unliveable expectations. But huge credit to Smith, he's gone and worked on everything, and right now he's reaped the rewards of hard work. Hughes has done this hard work, but right now it's the selectors and his mentality preventing him. After being compared to Bradman, like Smith who was linked to Warne, hopefully Hughes can use Smith's success as a pathway for his own success this summer.

  • POSTED BY Wefinishthis on | August 22, 2013, 22:59 GMT

    Great article again Brydon - you often write the most compelling stories here on cricinfo and are great with the stats. I think the India series showed that Smith had great potential, despite not scoring a hundred. It's still early days, but we may have just found our next captain!

  • POSTED BY Rowayton on | August 22, 2013, 23:38 GMT

    While it seems a popular theme in talking about Australian players, I think it is a dubious claim that Smith first made his name as a short form player. He was just another player until the 09/10 Sheffield Shield season when he scored four centuries in four day cricket. That is when people started taking him seriously. Long term, I reckon he is a far better Test than ODI prospect - he is at his best when he builds an innings rather than comes out firing. My prediction now - he will captain Australia in the 2017/18 Ashes series, batting at number 4.

  • POSTED BY Bonehead_maz on | August 22, 2013, 23:48 GMT

    I've always liked the way Smith goes about things. I am now liking him more and more. ( I TOTALLY forgive him for that shot at Manchester - team's need for fast runs, always out weighs personal milestones). I can't wait till he completes sorting out his batting and practices his bowling more.

    This guy is SERIOUSLY talented (just watch the speed of his hands through the ball AND him field !). I was surprised to hear a year or so back, some Australian players from the 1950's comparing his abilities positively with Richie Benaud at the same age. (not often you'll hear Harvey rating a modern !). Smith is not just a "better bowler, batsman and fieldsman" apparently (batters were for coating fish in those days lol), but clearly is also far more experienced.

    Amazing coincidence ? There's a Faulkner playing in this very match - Aubrey will be the only one we even compare with Smith in the end !

    PS I also think James Faulkner is better than AK Davidson was at the same age