Tag: Steven Smith (page 1 of 2)

Steve Smith woefully out of form in the nets

Photo by Sarah Ansell

Photo by Sarah Ansell

That’s what we’ve heard. We’ve heard that Steve Smith can’t find the middle of the bat when he’s batting in the nets.

Smith may or may not have commented: “I’ve been hitting it really well out in the middle, so I don’t think I’m out of form. If I can just keep on performing well, sooner or later it’s all going to come together and I’ll get some decent results in my preparation as well.

“The coaches say they can’t see too much right with my technique, so it’s the same as it’s always been. I think if I can just stay patient then a good solid net session is right around the corner.”

Conversely, when it comes to Tests, Steve Smith is most definitely not due.


Steve Smith’s shonky technique keeps him hiding in plain sight

Photo by Sarah Ansell

Photo by Sarah Ansell

The notion of a ‘best batsman in the world’ is stupid. You rate them based on what’s already happened and it counts for nothing the next time they’re pitched into competitive cricket. Cricket is not a prolonged personal odyssey, it’s a series of matches between teams. A high ranking gives you some idea who to look out for, but it is not an end in itself.

The buffer

In December, Steve Smith scored a hundred and we said that everyone would instantly forget the situation the day before and now proclaim him clearly the best batsman in the world.

Our point was that Smith, Virat Kohli, Joe Root and Kane Williamson were all performing at a similar level and ‘the best batsman in the world’ was generally whoever had been batting most recently.

Well, according to the latest rankings, Smith’s opened up a gap. Like so many foods, rankings are best served heavily salted – but they can be informative. According to these ones, not only can Smith afford a couple of failures and still be ahead of his contemporary rivals, his current score is also behind only four other batsmen ever.

Smith is on 941, looking up to the peak scores of Don Bradman (961), Len Hutton (945), Jack Hobbs (942) and Ricky Ponting (also 942 – has anyone checked the decimals?).

Viv Richards and Garry Sobers peaked at 938; Jacques Kallis and AB de Villiers never topped 935; and Brian Lara never got above 911.

What does this tell us?

Steve Smith is not better than all of the above. What this tells us that he’s been playing well for long enough to earn himself entry into the kinds of mind-crushingly tedious putting-players-in-order conversations that the comments sections of cricket websites occasionally descend into.

That, in itself, is a notable achievement. It’s also further fuel for our argument that batsmen with hideous techniques are fundamentally better bets than stylish ones. Not only do the shonkier-looking have to do more to win people over, their textbook rivals may also have little room for technical improvement.

In short, succeed with a dog shit method and you’ve probably got a half decent eye.

Myopic hindsight

Smith’s technique is very much his own. Back in 2013, we floated the possibility that this could be misleading, but it was still impossible to foresee what was to come.

In many ways it remains hard to see – even when sporting the night vision goggles of hindsight. The numbers are there (he averages 60.98), but can you honestly say that you don’t still think to yourself: “Ah, things’ll sort themselves out eventually. Give it time.”

What if things don’t sort themselves out? What if Steve Smith is the best batsman in the world?


Steve Smith’s brain fades still further, Bangladesh do the reverse

Bangladesh have won nine Tests and we make this their second win.

The convention is to remove matches in which Bangladesh feature from all Test statistics. This seems unduly harsh at the best of times, but it seems even more so when it’s them who you’re measuring.

Nevertheless, in the spirit of omission, we’ve stripped away all of their Test victories that might be disregarded for one reason or another and we’ve been left with their win over England last October and this one against Sri Lanka. Truly, it is Bangladesh’s Golden Era.

For the record, the Tigers’ other seven wins comprise five against Zimbabwe and two against one of those stand-in West Indies teams, which on this occasion featured luminaries such as Omar Phillips and David Bernard.

Meanwhile, over in Ranchi…

Steve Smith has suffered another horrendous brain fade, leading to grave concerns about his long-term mental health. Smith calmly held his bat out of the way of a ball pitching outside leg, only for it to hit his off stump.

If this brain fadery continues at its current rate, it will be but weeks before he’s entirely forgotten how to execute his magnificent double-elbowed chicken dance bowling action. As this is the only aspect of Steve Smith’s cricket in which we take any pleasure, we’d be keen for him to seek psychiatric treatment post-haste.


Video: Steve Smith tries to counter Wriddiham Saha’s ball-delving

Day one of the third Test between India and Australia. Glenn Maxwell played cricket and made runs, Steve Smith uglied yet another hundred and Wriddiham Saha went snuffling around in the Australian captain’s crotch in an attempt to pluck out a ball.

Here’s a video.

Got to admire his persistence.


Virat Kohli accuses Steve Smith of line-crossing

“There’s a line that you don’t cross on the cricket field,” said Virat Kohli, shortly after suggesting that the Australians had been looking to their dressing room for help when deciding whether to review decisions or not.

You realise what this is, don’t you? It’s an allegation of line-crossing.

This is serious stuff, because as you’re no doubt aware, the Australian cricket captain is the one who dictates the location of ‘the line’.

Any activity carried out by Australian players falls into the category of “playing hard but fair” while all other activities are by definition either “soft cricket” or “crossing the line”.

No-one fulfilled the role better than Michael Clarke, a man who fully understood the mobility and flexibility of the line. Clarke would no doubt agree with Steve Smith that seeking out the opinion of a third party when mulling whether or not to call upon the decision review system merely constitutes “a bit of a brain fade.”

It is, quite frankly, an outrage that Virat Kohli should slander the Australians in this way. It is surely obvious to us all that the Australians, with their poor faded brains, would never breach the line. The line is sacred.

Virat has crossed the line on this line-crossing thing.


Mop-up of the day – Steve Smith is the best player in the world

England v Australia: 3rd Investec Ashes Test - Day One

Photo by Sarah Ansell

Okay, first up, our Twitter round-up. Yep, still doing it, so have a read. Nasser Hussain’s in it and there are two absolutely blinding selfies from opposite ends of the selfie-taking spectrum. We still can’t decide which of the two is our favourite.

Second on the order of business, Cricket Badger. A couple of weeks ago, we failed to gain subscribers compared to the previous week and that makes us livid, so either sign-up or tell someone else to. This will not stand.

Finally, Steve Smith scored a hundred today which means everyone forgets where we were yesterday and says that he’s clearly the best player in the world, just ahead of Virat Kohli and Joe Root, who are in turn ahead of Kane Williamson on the grounds that they played more recently.

What no-one seems to care about is that all of these players are batsmen and therefore dull as shit. Oh for a fast bowler to undermine everyone’s pointless lust for a hierarchy.


Steven Smith is destined to fail says Michael Clarke

Photo by Sarah Ansell

Photo by Sarah Ansell

Michael Clarke has launched an astonishing broadside against his team-mate Steven Smith ahead of this summer’s Ashes series. The Australian captain claims that Smith will struggle to make any sort of impact this summer despite now being ranked the best Test batsman in the world.

Responding to Graeme Swann’s assertion that Smith might get found out in English conditions, Clarke said simply: “We will find out in five Test matches’ time whether Steve Smith is good enough to have success over here.”

A hundred in any of the first four Test matches would surely prove Smith’s credentials, so it is striking that the Australian captain does not think the matter will be resolved before the end of the series. Clearly, he is expecting few runs from the team’s new number three prior to the fifth Test and presumably not even then.

Smith has not commented publically, but will doubtless be horrified to learn that his captain has such little faith in him. Alternatively, he may see Clarke’s words as merely the latest salvo in the proxy war for control of the Australia team. Clarke, threatened by Smith’s recent success and his status as heir apparent, may be trying to undermine his rival to firm up his own position.

Either way, the Australia camp is in obvious disarray with the cracks destined to widen like those in the Waca pitch on which they won’t be playing.

With suspicions that Chris Rogers and Brad Haddin may be suffering from senility amongst other age-related illnesses, things currently look bleak for the tourists and there are also rumours that Darren Lehmann spat on a penguin while at London Zoo this week, raising the possibility that the coach may come under fire for his boorish behaviour.


Michael Clarke not quite finished and Steve Smith barely started

England v Australia: 3rd Investec Ashes Test - Day One

It’s possible that we jumped the gun in saying that we might not see much more of Michael Clarke. We’ve reached this conclusion on the basis that he made a hundred as recently as today.

Watching Clarke teeter and gallumph about, it’s clear that the spirit is willing but the tendons are inflamed, but you can get a long way with spirit – just ask Steve Smith.

We’ve previously said that at some point we’ll come to terms with Steve Smith’s run-scoring. We’re not sure we’re quite there yet, but a good innings is at least no longer a surprise. In fact, we’ve reached a point where we’re faintly outraged when he’s omitted from the Australia side. He pretty much always scores runs and he tends to do so in the right sort of manner for the situation as well.

Good cricketer. Weird batsman, weirder bowler, but good cricketer.


How Steve Smith makes the most of what he’s got

We’ve not actually seen it yet, but we’re hearing great things about Quinton de Kock’s dismissal; that maybe it was the stupidest in a winter which has seen its fair share of stupid dismissals. It’s surely no coincidence that Steve Smith was the bowler.

Much is made of the fact that Steve Smith makes the most of his occasionally freakish batting technique. He also makes the most of what he has as a bowler.

Here is a list of Steve Smith’s bowling attributes:

The combination of these things appears to incense batsmen into rash behaviour. Many players seem intent on hitting Smith out of the attack just so that they don’t have to look at him any more. Then they flat-bat a full toss to midwicket.


What do you make of Steve Smith’s batting?

Steve Smith's massive bat mostly out of shot

We’ve been struggling with this for months and we’ve still not reached any firm conclusions. We asked an Australian friend for his view and he just said: “He’ll be fine,” which didn’t really help clarify things.

We’re probably verging towards this: In good conditions in the first innings, Smith’s head’s good enough to score runs; but in poor conditions or in the second innings, his method makes him a bit of a liability. But this view is by no means set in stone.

Appearances can be deceptive

We feel like we’re being misled by his hideous technique. Steve Smith appears to have a bat with a handle significantly longer than is the norm. It’s probably just that he wafts it around eight feet outside off stump when the bowler runs in like it’s a magic wand and he’s trying to make the point fielder disappear.

When the ball arrives, things pretty much sort themselves out, unless he’s pulling, in which case he for some reason does it with a high left elbow. It’s all a little odd, but odd’s not necessarily bad.

General physical weirdness

Maybe it’s just Smith in general. His double-elbow chicken dance bowling action is weird enough, but actually pretty much everything he does is weird. Even when he was whocking a six to reach his hundred, he sort of half fell over afterwards. Everything’s kind of clumsy and with there being no clear distinction between chin and neck, he really doesn’t look like an athlete.

Have you seen him run? Does he have a bad hip or something? He moves like an elderly woman. Watch him setting off for a quick single or trying to skip up the steps back to the pavilion. There’s an enormous discrepancy between the amount of effort he puts in and the return he gets on it. A huge, full body convulsion seems to result in him getting his foot about half an inch off the floor, like all the energy has dissipated somewhere along the way.

He scored some runs though and that’s happened a few times now. At some point we’ll come to terms with that.


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