I originally posted this nearly a year ago on the 16th March 2013 on a much more respected website than here. It was written during Australia’s disastrous match in Mohali. Remember HomeWorkGate?
Thought it was time to bump it.
The world was first introduced to wonders of one Steven Smith back in 2010. As a 20 year-old wonder kid in the mould of Phil Hughes, he broke into the team batting #6. The boy played 2 Tests against Pakistan, making his Test top score of 77. This effort got him onto The Ashes team later that year, and after 3 Tests, 1 x 50 and not much with the ball, Smith was sent back to join the long list of unfulfilled talent that Australia has an impeccable record of fostering.
However, in his time at the crease through those innings, Smith showed that he had the flair and the shot making that could be useful.
Do you remember another bloke by the name of Steve? This one had the surname of Waugh.
Like Smith, he also had a fairly mediocre start to his career. It took until his 42nd test innings to reach the 100 mark. However, in the 41 preceding innings, we saw a natural stroke player. One with all the shots. In fact, he reached 50 in, dare I say it, twenty two percent of those innings played. Smith is currently reaching 50 27% of the time
However, let’s plot the Steve Waugh journey and see if we can’t learn from the ghosts of cricket seasons past.
Steve was initially described as a fluent stroke player, but one who was reckless with the cross bat shots that was the demise of him time and time again. By the end of his career, he was no longer that man. He was the rock, the one who took the horizontal bat shot out of his game. The result was he looked awkward to the short ball, but the look did not equate to weakness. He left the game a legend. Most importantly, he rarely bowled in Test match cricket once he made the decision to rectify his batting.
Can Steve Smith embark on a similar journey? Can he learn patience? He definitely has the shots, but can he curb the desire to display them all like a Hyde Park flasher and, in the words of Geoffrey Boycott, “Dig In”? Perhaps he is a child of the T20 era that players like Waugh, Dravid, Border, et al will no longer be seen again?
Smith has already dropped his bowling and it is now a sideshow when called upon. Shane Watson has also attempted the same strategy, but I do not believe Smith’s personal sense of entitlement will impact like it has with his vice captain.
Two final things to consider.
Firstly, Steve Waugh was given the time to grow into the team. From his debut in December 1985 through to The Ashes series in mid 1989, Waugh was allowed to play. Will Australia afford the same to Smith. Current selection history and John Inverarity may be against him
Secondly, it was an Ashes series that saw Steve Waugh rise to the challenge. Can Smith stamp his name on the coming 10 test epic?
So, is Steve Smith the next Steve Waugh? Only time will tell.