In a quest to find replacement for the legendary Shane Warne, Aussie selectors stumbled upon Steven Smith, a blond lookalike, who bowled decent leg spin in Shield cricket. His talent was obvious and his enthusiasm for the game had no bounds. Aussies have found a gem and all the legends gave him a thumbs up as a natural replacement of Shane Warne.
Little would anyone have thought, that he will become their most important batsman in the next 5 years and at the age of 25 years would be anointed as skipper of the Australian Test Team.
Playing for New South Wales in the domestic cricket, Smith was earmarked as a special talent very early. He attracted the attention of cricket lovers around Australia as a 20 year old who took NSW to victory over Queensland with a second innings bowling performance of 4/15, which was made even more special by the fact that NSW were defending only 122.
His rapid rise through the state ranks attracted the national selectors attention and very soon Smith was wearing the green and gold in shorter formats. His performance although not spectacular was reasonable and his bowling weakness was exploited by stronger international oppositions who played spin better. His acrobatic fielding efforts thrilled teammates and crowds alike.
Being a smart cricketer he quickly realized his bowling deficiencies and started concentrating on other aspects of his game. It is during this time, his batting bloomed and his spectacular fielding efforts confirmed a special all round player in making. He managed to convince everyone in the Australian set up and the chance to adorn baggy green duly arrived in 2010 season against Pakistan at Lord’s.
He made a good 77 in only his second test against a rampant Pakistan at Leeds and what impressed everyone was his footwork and nimble feet against spinners. His ability to play to play against quality spin further came to fore against India in Mohali where he scored a classy calm 92, in the backdrop of all the commotion in the Aussie team on that tour.
His highest test score of 175 has come against Pakistan in the dust bowls of Dubai, when rest of the team struggled to make any meaningful contributions. His mental side came to fore in the recently played test match in Adelaide where he made a fantastic century followed by a touching gesture for his departed mate.
He has rapidly evolved into a very dependable player and on the current form; he is the best Australian batsman. With the future of Michael Clarke uncertain, the Aussie selectors have naturally turned to future with Steve Smith. With loads of advice coming from every side, it will be important for him to be his man and churn out his own version of the Australian team like his predecessors.
His biggest test will come next year when the Aussies land on the shores of England to defend Ashes but before that he will have an extended net session in captaincy with the Indians at home.
– Asvin Lakkaraju [Asvin plays for the Swiss National Team . and is a sports analyst for the Cricket Galaxy at Sportz Cosmos. Join him on twitter here.]