Australia is gearing up for its title defense on home turf in the ICC T20 World Cup 2022 that begins on October 16. The squad announced on September 1 by Cricket Australia is led by experienced batsman Aaron Finch while also containing other time-tested campaigners such as former captain Steven Smith, charismatic David Warner, power hitting Glenn Maxwell and top bowler Mitchell Starc.
Steven Smith, whose astronomical batting average, 60 in Tests after 87 matches, have often led to comparisons with all-time great Sir Don Bradman, has been Australia’s batting talisman for close to a decade now and once again, his services will be of great importance to his team.
Who is Steven Smith?
Steven Smith is an International-level cricketer primarily representing Australia in all the three formats of the game. He was born on June 2, 1989 to Peter Smith and Gillian Smith. He is a right-handed batsman who started his career as a right-armed leg spinner. Smith, who was studying at the Menai High School, dropped out at 17 to pursue a career in cricket. He started dating Dani Wills, a law student, in 2011, and the two got married in 2014.
Smith started his domestic career for New South Wales in January 2008. His leg spinning action, which many believed to have been modelled upon that of legendary leggie Shane Warne, drew praise from Warne himself. Smith made his T20 debut for Australia in an encounter against Pakistan at Melbourne in February 2010. In the same month, he made his ODI debut, also at Melbourne against the West Indies. He waited 5 more months before making his Test debut against Pakistan in July 2010.
Interestingly, the great batter that he is now, he was essentially viewed at the time of his Test debut as a leg spinner who could also come in handy with the bat. He scored his maiden Test century in the match against England at Ovals in the final Test of the Ashes in 2013. He has ever since been a prolific run-getter for the Australian team which initially struggled after the retirement of long time skipper and batting legend Ricky Ponting and his successor, Michael Clarke.
He was a prominent member of the 2015 Australian squad that won a record fifth ODI World Cup title. His eminence in batting has repositioned him as primarily a batsman. In 2018, in the ball-tampering case of youngster Cameron Bancroft, Smith and his deputy Warner were found guilty of being party to a decision making team that led Bancroft into committing the blunder. Smith was served a ban of 1-year when he was prohibited from representing Australia in International cricket.
Smith’s comeback to competitive International cricket was nothing short of a fairy-tale story, as he amassed 774 runs in the Ashes series of 2019. He continued his stellar form in the series with India in 2019-2020. He was also brilliant in the home series against India in 2020-21 where he scored back-to-back centuries in the first two matches, both off 62 balls.
Over the years, with a lot of sweat and toil, Smith has established himself as one of the best batsmen in the world. He has a highly unorthodox style of batting with a flexible stance. He has been found to increasingly shuffle from one end to another before playing a delivery. This, as per his own admission, is a characteristic he developed in the WACA test (third test at Perth) in the 2013-14 Ashes where he found that the greater shuffle gave him better control over the off-side, an area that had been the Achilles heel of his batting technique.
While such a stance and technique are hardly recommendable in a general course of cricketing instructions, In Smith’s case they seem to work out all well, thanks only to a remarkable agility and high level focus. Smith’s IPL career has neither been as consistent or as remarkable as his international cricket career, albeit with some great moments. He had captained RPSG in 2017 before also captaining RR from 2018. His lacklustre performance in 2021 meant that he had no takers and went unsold in the 2022 auction.