If Steve Smith was Indian, his batting technique would just be accepted: Trent Woodhill
Steve Smith (AFP Photo)

There has been a lot of debate surrounding Steve Smith‘s unconventional batting technique, how it defies logic and how he has been able to dominate bowlers across the globe without compromising on it.

His former coach Trent Woodhill feels that had Smith been an Indian batsman, they system there would have accepted him wholeheartedly without questioning the manner in which he bats. However, Australian cricket‘s obsession with correct technique, he says, means one has to look good while scoring runs, something which can be dangerous for the youngster who have their own unique ways of batting or bowling.

“If Steven was Indian, his technique and mechanics and the strategy around his batting would just be accepted,” Woodhill was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo. “We see (Virat) Kohli, (Sunil) Gavaskar, (Rohit0 Sharma, (Sourav) Ganguly, (Virender) Sehwag – all these players have unique techniques. The Indian system is all about output, about scoring runs, “We don’t care how you do it as long as you do it”, whereas in Australia we wanted you to score well and we wanted you to look good. I recently had a Facebook conversation with Greg Chappell about top-hand dominance. I’ve never had a conversation with an Indian cricketer about top-hand dominance.”

Smith marked his return to Test cricket in  remarkable manner, scoring 774 runs across seven innings averaging just over 110. He struck three centuries and as many half-century, playing a stellar role in helping Australia retain the Ashes trophy.

Throwing light on the challenges Smith encountered early in his career, Woodhill said, “His biggest challenge, even back then, was being able to maintain his technique in the face of others not understanding how it works.”

He warned that a negative attitude towards anything that deviates from what is considered as ‘attractive’ could hamper a youngster’s development. “Young players need protection from both themselves and others who don’t like difference. A cricket dressing room can be a brutal place for a young player, who might be forced to conform – more so in Australia than any other country I’ve been in. In Australia we struggle with things that are different. We like a sexy Shaun Marsh thirty, made with a conventional, attractive technique, rather than an unconventional Steven Smith hundred,” he said.

The conservatism, Woodhill said, isn’t limited to just batting, adding that even bowlers are asked to bowl in a certain way whereas there are several examples of other countries producing world-class performers who have succeeded with unconventional methods.

“…Rashid Khan, who holds the ball like an offspinner but bowls legspin, an Anil Kumble – seam-up, wristspin, predominantly wrong’un. Australian cricket likes to pass the baton on: this is how you do it, this is how it’s always been done. Steven’s come along, and to some extent, David Warner’s come along and said, ‘No, we’re gonna do it this way now’, and they’ve had a lot of success,” he opined.