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Smith's Ashes run-spree sparks Bradman comparisons

Smith's Ashes run-spree sparks Bradman comparisons

CRICKET: Such an approach ought to make Smith a prime candidate for lbw yet he has scored five centuries in his past six Ashes Tests, averaging 139.

Cricket
By AFP

Tuesday 13 August 2019, 10:19AM


Steve Smith's two centuries in the first Test at Edgbaston have prompted comparisons with the great Don Bradman. Photo: AFP

Steve Smith's two centuries in the first Test at Edgbaston have prompted comparisons with the great Don Bradman. Photo: AFP

An Australia batsman with a technique that departs from the coaching manual piling on the runs in the Ashes -- England have been here before.

But should Steve Smith be compared to the greatest of them all, Don Bradman?

The pair have been mentioned repeatedly in the same breath since Smith hit innings of 144 and 142 during Australia's 251-run win over England in the first Test at Edgbaston, a triumphant return to Test cricket following a 12-month ban for his role in a ball-tampering scandal.

Yet amid cricket's welter of statistics, one figure stands alone -- Bradman's Test batting average of 99.94.

Taking 20 innings as the minimum qualification, Smith is currently second to Bradman with 62.96.

No one either before and certainly not in the 70 years since Bradman played his last Test in 1948 has come close to that mark of nearly a 100 runs per innings in the format.

Whereas Smith missed a year of Australia cricket duty at the height of his career, Bradman missed several, not for breaking the rules but because of the interruption to international sport caused by World War II.

In his first Test back in 1946, Bradman made 187 against England in Brisbane and followed up with 234 in Sydney.

Yet by scoring two hundreds in an Ashes Test, the 30-year old Smith managed a feat that proved beyond 'The Don'.

Some observers deprecated Bradman's fondness for the pull, while a stance that saw him pick up his bat from a position between his feet rather than behind the back foot was certainly unorthodox.

These, however, seem like minor 'imperfections' compared to the way in which the fidgety Smith -- who has his laces taped to his boots as he does not like to see them  -- shuffles across his crease before each ball he faces.But there is method in all of this. As Smith explained two years ago, he used to take guard on middle stump and not have a 'trigger' foot movement. However, he found this left him vulnerable to edges outside off stump, a common mode of dismissal for most batsmen.

- 'Top class player' - 

Smith tried to counter this by taking guard on leg stump and moving right across, which played to his strength off his pads.

"It's a big movement," he said, "but for me it's about trying to minimise the ways that you get out. 

"If guys get me out lbw, I say well played, congratulations but, if I nick one off, that's when I get upset at myself."

England won the 1932/33 Ashes in a series where they curbed Bradman's average by deploying the infamous 'Bodyline' tactic of fast, short-pitched bowling to a packed legside field.

Such an option is no longer available to current England captain Joe Root, whose revamped bowling attack will have to hold their nerve against Smith during this week's second Test at Lord's.

Neil Harvey, the last surviving member of the 'Invincibles' -- the Australia side captained by Bradman that won the 1948 Ashes in England 4-0 as part of an unbeaten 34-match tour -- is well placed to assess both his old skipper and Smith, stripped of the Australia captaincy last year after the ball-tampering row.

"He (Smith) showed a lot of resolve -— he must've got a lot of heckling from the crowd (at Edgbaston), he just put his head down and made runs," Harvey told the ABC.

"He's a top player, that fella. He's a really top-class player." 

Harvey, now aged 90, was an Australian legend himself, averaging 48.41 in 79 Tests, but he shies away from making comparisons between Bradman and Smith.

"I think if you're a great player in any era you can fit in somewhere no matter who you're playing with or against. But I'm not one to compare people, you just can't do it. The game changes so much."

In the 1930 Ashes in England, Bradman scored an unparalleled 974 runs as the Aussies won the series 2-1.

After one Test of the current series, Smith has 286 runs in the bag. If he can get anywhere near that Bradman record, then Australia will likely retain the Ashes and the comparisons will grow even louder. 

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Winfield | 20 August 2019 - 02:18:27

The comparison to Bradman itself is baloney. They never had batting helmets in the old days, bats were inferior, wickets rougher, outfields slower .. too many factors to list here. AND his average is 40% lower than Bradmans. Fake news folks.

Winfield | 20 August 2019 - 01:22:23

The Captain of the Australian Team IS supposed to be perfect, in regards to not intentionally cheating.

Winfield | 20 August 2019 - 01:20:38

It wasn't a mistake by Smith. It was intentional cheating that he as Captain of the Australian team planned for a newby in the team to execute. Insane and unforgivable. He should have been banned for 3 years at least. 

Rorri_2 | 19 August 2019 - 10:37:42

Damn, can't edit... should read "you also forget Steve isn't"

Rorri_2 | 19 August 2019 - 06:23:27

Mr Winfield, I didn't accuse you of cheating, in sport, cheating in anything, is cheating, I do not think you are a saint, you also forget Steve is the one who actually did the act, so again, I suspect you must know someone who cheated.... does this make you guilty?

Rorri_2 | 18 August 2019 - 16:23:24

Mr Winfield, where did I say it was "acceptable," I simply stated we all make mistakes, you need to move on.. no one is perfect, not even you.

Winfield | 18 August 2019 - 08:56:50

What an idiotic response by Mr Rorri. So you think the Captain of the Australian Cricket team cheating is on any level acceptable?  .... ITS A YES OR NO QUESTION ! And BTW, I have never cheated in any sport in my life.  

Rorri_2 | 16 August 2019 - 14:51:36

" let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!" Mr Winfield, you must be a saint.

Winfield | 16 August 2019 - 03:39:46

Steve Smith is a cheat and a disgrace to the sport. The only 1 year ban was a joke. His cheating, then admission and crying on national TV is an embarrassment to Australia. Not even a high school kid would cheat like he did. But he did it as Captain of the Australian Team. Unbelievable. !!  

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