Australia’s premier batsman Steve Smith won the coveted ICC Men’s Test Player of the Decade after having established himself as one of the greatest red-ball players over the last 10 years. He faced stiff competition from other nominees in the category, who have also had a stupendous decade.

In the list of nominees for the award were India skipper Virat Kohli, former Sri Lankan cricketer Rangana Herath, ex-English pacer James Anderson, New Zealand captain Kane Williamson, English batsman Joe Root and Pakistan’s ace spinner Yasir Shah.

In 69 Tests, Smith amassed 7040 runs at a staggering average of 65.79. It included 26 centuries as well. These are the stats from January 1, 2011, to October 7, 2020, the period taken into consideration for the ICC awards

Rewind to July 2010. A blond, baby-faced, 21-year-old debuts for Australia and bats at No. 8 in his first innings, and gets bumped down to No. 9 in the second. Steve Smith began life in a baggy green as Australia’s next big leg-spin hope. Things didn’t quite go to plan then. But Australia won’t be complaining.

After a spell out of the team he didn’t cut it as a legspinner Smith only got his chance in the XI because a few of his teammates infamously forgot to do their homework on the 2013 tour of India, and he made an impact straightaway, scoring 92 from No. 5 in his first Test innings in over two years. Five months later, he was depositing the part-time medium pace of Jonathan Trott down the ground to move from 94 to a maiden Test hundred.

Among the many highs that followed in Smith’s Test career in spite of an endlessly fidgety between-balls routine and a batting technique that probably defies many a coaching manual out there was the home series against India in 2014, when he hit 162 not out, 133, 192 and 117 in consecutive matches.

(With ICC inputs)