Steven Peter Devereux Smith
June 02, 1989, Sydney, New South Wales
Also Known As
Right hand Bat
Middle order Batter
In a career of twists and turns, Steven Smith started out as a legspinner and become Australia's best batter since Sir Donald Bradman, either side of having his career derailed by a ball-tampering scandal that saw him stripped of the captaincy and banned for 12 months.
The rise from that controversy at Newlands in 2018 was near-miraculous: Smith returned to Test cricket with a 774-run Ashes series in 2019, and pictures of him in tears at Sydney airport after his return in disgrace from South Africa were replaced in the popular memory with those of triumphant celebrations of centuries. Part of his punishment for Cape Town was being banned from any leadership position for two years, but once he served that penance, in late 2021 he was named Pat Cummins' vice-captain and a few weeks later led the side against England when Cummins was ruled out of a Test by Covid.
Smith began his Test career in 2010 as a legspinner who batted at No. 8; by the time he was named Australia's captain five years later, he was the No. 1 Test batter in the world and no more than an occasional bowler. His talent was apparent early, but as a young batter he had more moving parts than an orchestra - only, they didn't always work in harmony. He went away and worked on his game and returned to the Test side two years later with a much tighter technique. He still fidgeted between balls but could play every shot in the book, and a few others that defied words besides. Quick-footed and adept at facing spin, he is equally comfortable driving and pulling the fast bowlers.
When he was appointed Australia's 45th Test captain, Smith was filling in for the injured Michael Clarke in three Tests. That was during a markedly purple patch, even by his standards: he produced six hundreds in eight Tests then, against India, West Indies and England. Despite being only 25 at the time, the extra responsibility clearly didn't hamper his run-making, and Smith cemented his spot when Clarke retired at the end of the 2015 Ashes in England.
As Smith's batting developed, his bowling became less frequently sighted, although he could still land the odd fizzing legbreak and winkle out a wicket or two. In the field his athleticism and instinct stand out, even in a high-quality fielding side like Australia. He has also been a key man in Australia's ODI side, was his country's leading run-scorer in their triumphant 2015 World Cup campaign, and became captain in all three formats before his career was turned upside down.
Batting & Fielding