On the back of Steve Smith’s magnificent double ton in the third Ashes test, which helped guide Australia to an unassailable 3-0 lead in the series, debate how swirled about just how good the skipper is.
And these conversations invariably always lead players being compared to the ultimate measuring stick – Don Bradman.
OPINION: Steve Smith is the best Test batsman in the world right now but it’s far too soon to consider him the best since Don Bradman: https://t.co/EwVEonbXUq by @JacobKuriype pic.twitter.com/3AYs2TGaqO
— FOX SPORTS Cricket (@FOXCricketLive) 22 December 2017
There have been 195 players to rack up at least 1,000 Test runs since Bangladesh became a Test nation in mid-November of 2000.
Only three players in that time have averaged over 60: Andy Flower from Zimbabwe with 71.52, Steve Smith with 62.89 and his former Test teammate Adam Voges with 61.88.
Four players in that same period have seen at least 40% of their innings produce scores of at least 50 runs: Flower with 45.16%, Lokesh Rahul of India at 42.42%, England’s Joe Root with 40.87%, and Smith at 40.74%. In comparison, Don Bradman had 52.50% of his innings produce scores of 50-plus.
Just one player though has produced a century in at least 20% of his innings – Steve Smith at 20.37%. The great Sir Don had 36.25% of his innings finish in triple figures.
— The Sydney News (@thesydneynews) 21 December 2017
Best Ever Test Ranking (Batting)
961 Don Bradman
945 Len Hutton, STEVE SMITH
942 Jack Hobbs, Ricky Ponting
941 Peter May
938 Clyde Walcott, Viv Richards, Kumar Sangakkara, Gary Sobers
935 AB de Villiers, Matthew Haydon, Jacques Kallis
933 Mohammad Yousuf pic.twitter.com/vOxffRKSpe
— WaقaS (@AhmadsJabraFan) 20 December 2017
As far as genuine number four batsmen go, Steve Smith is the best in the history of Test cricket. His average of 81.07 at second drop dwarfs the rest of the field who have had at least 30 innings in the position. The next best is Sir Everton Weekes from the West Indies, who had an average of 63.62 batting at four, with South African Graeme Pollock averaging 62.58, India’s Virat Kohli at 62.05 and South African all-rounder Jacques Kallis 61.87 the next best.
As far as batting with the pressure of captaincy is concerned, Steve Smith currently ranks second behind only Bradman for having the best batting average as a captain (minimum of 2800 runs). Bradman averaged 101.52 with the bat as skipper. Smith currently averages 74, with the next best being Kohli at 67.45.
So it’s fair to say that, right now, we are witnessing the best number four Test batsmen the game has ever seen, whose ability to consistently churn out scores of 50-plus, many of which he turns into tons, coupled with his astonishing average since becoming captain is something Australia hasn’t witnessed since Bradman.
And if Bradman can be used as a guide, he got better after turning 28 years old – averaging 104.90 between then and his last innings.
Smith turned 28 earlier this year and is already averaging 77.86 since his birthday.
— 7Sport (@7Sport) 22 December 2017