Australia won the Ashes after almost seven years, outplaying England in every department from the first Test onwards. What they will be pleased about is that every member of the team has contributed in a big way, in which the latest to join the party was Steven Smith. Shrikant Shankar believes that Smith’s century at the Western Australian Cricket Association (WACA) Ground is a good sign for Australia heading into the future.
David Warner, Shane Watson, Michael Clarke, Brad Haddin and Steven Smith are five Australian batsmen who have scored seven centuries between them in the ongoing Ashes 2013-14 series. Only Ben Stokes has got a ton for England. This shows the dominance that Australia have had over England. They have subsequently won the Ashes urn with two matches remaining. In almost all six of their innings, Australia have batted really well. They have been bowled out only twice and have declared their innings the remaining four times.
After the first two Tests, there might have been one or two voices raised over the form of Watson and Smith. But they have silenced their critics by scoring important centuries in the third Test at WACA, Perth. Watson bludgeoned his way to his fourth Test ton in the second innings and that proved to be quite the difference in the end, as Australia won the match by 150 runs. But, Smith’s ton in the first innings must not be forgotten as well.
Australia were in a spot of bother at 143 for five in their first innings. Haddin was the man in form and somebody just needed to stick around with the wicketkeeper-batsman long enough. Smith answered that call and the duo added 124 runs for the sixth wicket. Once Haddin departed for 55, Smith added another 59 runs with Mitchell Johnson. These two partnerships helped Australia to 385, before they were bowled out. Smith had scored 111 off 208 balls with 14 fours and two sixes.
Scoring runs on what is supposed to be the world’s fastest track in cricket is not easy and especially when under pressure. So Smith’s innings just goes to prove how good and important it was in the context of the match. He also deservedly got the Man-of-the-Match award. This will go a long way in helping him establish himself in the Australian Test team. He is the future star for Australia.
There are many who are ageing in this Australian line-up and when the Ashes series returns back Down Under in 2017, the look of the side will be quite different. Smith is only 24-years old and he needs time and has to be given confidence for the next few years. Smith started out as a leg-spinner who can bat and now he is a batsman who can bowl a bit of leg-spin. Spin bowling has been an issue for Australia ever since Brad Hogg retired, although people would like to believe it was Shane Warne’s retirement that has caused the problems. But Australia are well-set in the bowling department as their plethora of pacers are among the best in world cricket. So, spin can be given time to find its way back.
In the meantime, Smith can assert himself as a batsman and then work on his bowling. There are two more Test to go and if Smith gets more runs under his belt then he can be a real handful. He is already an exceptional fielder, so, he has many positives in his repertoire. There is also a belief that Australia will not change this winning combination till they stops winning. When one follows that system, there are always a few fortunate players who get an extended run in the side despite less-than impressive performances. But with his match-winning century at the WACA from a difficult situation, Smith has proved that he is more than just adding up the numbers for Australia.
(Shrikant Shankar is a writer/reporter at CricketCountry.com. Previously he has done audio commentary for various matches involving India, Indian Premier League and Champions League Twenty20 for ESPNSTAR.com. You can follow him on Twitter @Shrikant_23)
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