After being Australia’s dominant Ashes force for years, England may have finally quelled their Steve Smith headache
Steve Smith haunted England in the last Ashes series, even drawing comparisons to Don Bradman. But the Poms might have finally unravelled him.
England might have finally unravelled the mystery that is Steve Smith.
The former Australian captain has dominated England repeatedly, no more so than the last series in the United Kingdom, where he averaged 110 and virtually single-handedly ensured Australia retained the Ashes.
Smith drew comparisons to Sir Don Bradman such was his conquest of England.
But in this series there has been no such domination.
Smith is far from a walking wicket but he is yet to make a century and on a green Blundstone Arena, only lasted two balls before edging Ollie Robinson straight to second slip to depart for a duck.
It takes his series average to 31, with 211 runs in total – just sixth in the list for aggregate – with a top score of 93.
For Australia’s best batter going into the series, this is not the return he or the team would have expected.
He has been caught behind by the wicketkeeper three times in seven dismissals (although in Adelaide it was a strangle down the leg side) and in Hobart his edge found Zak Crawley at second slip.
And it hasn’t been one bowler that has caused Smith headaches, with his Hobart victor, Ollie Robinson, dismissing Smith twice, veteran seamer James Anderson – who missed Hobart due to soreness – twice, and speedster Mark Wood also getting Smith on two occasions.
Underwhelming spinner Jack Leach (who was dropped for the second time this series for Hobart) also claimed Smith’s wicket in SCG when he bowled him in the second innings.
Despite his lean returns, Wood said Smith was still a prize scalp prior to the Hobart Test.
“He might not have had a hundred but getting 90, 50, 60 or 70 is vital in the game,” Wood said.
“He’s still contributing to their team winning.”
Just as the ICC world Test rankings says, this Australian team’s king of the willow crown now belongs to Marnus Labuschagne, and this series would suggest the gap is wide and only widening on his predecessor.