HomeAnalysisStats Bite: Steve Smith- The Modern Test great

Stats Bite: Steve Smith- The Modern Test great

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His stance might look awkward. He might look fidgety at the crease. He might not have the most flamboyant cover drive in the game.

But then, show him an array of bowlers, and he will dismantle them with mastery. Steve Smith, the lynch pin of the Australian batting line up, can even stake claim for being the greatest Test batsman of the modern era.

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What makes Smith such a special attraction?

Let us delve deep and crunch some numbers to unravel this enigma.

Smith’s batting average places him next only to the ‘Don’

62.84.

That is the batting average of Smith after 131 innings in Test cricket. In fact, in the entire 143 year history of Test match cricket, no mortal man(who has played a minimum of 20 innings) except Don Bradman has averaged more than Smith.

And, among his contemporaries, Smith stands head and shoulders above every other batsman.

In the below table, let us look at the batsmen with the highest averages in Test cricket. Here, we will consider only batsmen who have played a minimum of 50 Test innings.

Player NameInningsRunsAverage100s
Sir Don Bradman80699699.9429
Steve Smith131722762.8426
Herbert Sutcliffe84455560.7316
Ken Barrington131680658.6720
Everton Weekes81445558.6115
Wally Hammond140724958.4522
Garfield Sobers160803257.7826
Kumar Sangakkara2331240057.4038
Jack Hobbs102541056.9415
Sir Clyde Walcott74379856.6815

From the above table, we can clearly see the consistency of the Australian batting talisman. In fact, no batsman who has played more than 100 Test innings averages more than Smith in Test cricket.

No batsman who has scored more than 7000 Test runs averages more than Smith in the whites.

Smith- Head and shoulders over the current crop

Steve Smith celebrates century against a Test against in India. (Credits: Twitter)
Steve Smith celebrates century against a Test against in India. (Credits: Twitter)

The batting greats of the modern era consist of Indian batting Superstar Virat Kohli, England skipper Joe Root, Kiwi batting sensation Kane Williamson, and Smith himself.

In the below table, let us look at the numbers generated by these four batsmen, and also look at their home and away records.

Player NameInningsRunsAverage100sInnings per 100
Virat Kohli145724053.63275.37
Steve Smith131722762.84265.03
Joe Root169759948.09179.94
Kane Williamson140674650.99216.66

 From the above table, we can see that Smith averages more than 9 points higher than Kohli, and his average is 12 points higher than both Root and Williamson.

Also, among the current crop, his tally of hundreds is just one short of Kohli, and this is in spite of playing 14 innings lesser than the Indian skipper.

Also, he has the best innings per century ratio, as seen from the above table.

Home and Away Records of the Fab Four

Let us now analyze these batting gladiators in terms of their performances in home and away Tests.

The Modern Day ‘Fab Four’- Record in home Tests

Player NameInningsRunsAverage100s
Virat Kohli60355868.4213
Steve Smith57334471.1513
Joe Root86412451.5511
Kane Williamson62314958.3110

From the above table, we can see that Smith averages the highest when playing at home, and also has the most hundreds as well, along with Kohli. Now, let us go ahead and analyse their records in Away Tests.

The Modern Day ‘Fab Four- Record in Away Tests

Player NameInningsRunsAverage100s
Virat Kohli85368244.3614
Steve Smith74388357.1013
Joe Root83347545.136
Kane Williamson78332745.4811

The true difference comes only when we analyse their away records in Test cricket. Apart from Smith, no batsman averages over 50 or more in Away Tests.

In fact, Smith’s away average in Tests is higher than the career averages of Kohli, Root and Smith.

Smith has also scored the most away runs in Tests, in spite of playing the least number of innings amongst the four batsmen.

2019 Ashes- Smith’s annus mirabilis

During the Ashes 2019, Steve Smith looked invincible. (Credits: Twitter)
During the Ashes 2019, Steve Smith looked invincible. (Credits: Twitter)

The Ashes is the ultimate test for any Australian batsman. It is considered the holy grail of Test cricket, and is considered the greatest rivalry in the history of the Sport.

In the 2019 Ashes series, Steve Smith traversed a plane that has rarely been traversed by a mortal man in Test cricket.

After returning to the game after the sand paper gate incident, Smith lorded over the England bowlers, and the opposition ran out of answers.

Here, let us look at Smith’s performances to understand the extent of his inhuman domination

InningsRunsAverage100s
7774110.573

 Smith averaged an unreal 110.57 in that series, and scored 3 splendid hundreds. In fact, in that entire tour, there was only one occasion when he did not cross the fifty run mark. The 2019 Ashes series was Smith’s annus mirabilis.

Smith also has the most number of hundreds in the history of the Ashes, after the incomparable Don Bradman and Jack Hobbs.

2019- The year of Steve Smith

In 2019, Smith lorded over every other batsman, to finish the calendar year with a fascinating average of 74.23. In the below table, let us look at the top 5 highest run getters of 2019.

Player NameInningsRunsAverage100s
Marnus Labuschagne17110464.943
Steve Smith1396574.233
Joe Root2385137.002
Rory Burns2382435.822
Ben Stokes2182145.612

In spite of playing just 13 innings in 2019, Smith finished as the second highest run scorer for the year. He crossed the 50 run mark in 7 out of the 14 innings that he played, and was the stand out performer of the year.

The final word

With the dizzying numbers that he has generated in his career, there is no doubt that Smith is one verge of becoming the greatest Test batsman of the modern era.

The legendary Aussie batting gladiator has pulverized several bowling attacks in his career, and is well on his way to achieving batting immortality.

As the master batsman turns 31, here’s wishing him a very happy birthday.

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