Steve Smith and his steady march to greatness



Stevan Smith or Steve Smith as he seems to be popularly known is an unusual captain of the Australian cricket team. Unusual in many ways, his style of functioning, batting and as it happened in the ongoing Test, courting controversy! Whether one likes him or hates him for all he does, particularly for the way he bats (many would call it clumsy) Steve has come to stay as one of Australian cricket's famous spearheads whose stubborn stay at the wicket is now part of cricket folklore. Many had said that West Indian Chanderpaul had the most clumsy syle of batting and now Steve belongs to that same school.

His unorthox batting style may not be appealing. The way he shuffles across the wicket at the bowler's delivery point would make it even more unacceptable to those who have come up watching batsmen playing on the back or front foot. Style, it was thought was what made cricket batting a sight to behold. The grace of the drives, the pulls and hooks had a special place in cricket annals. It continues to be despite the exceptions like Steve and his ilk. Not that this has in anyway curbed his batting or effectiveness of his stroke-naking. The man has been fluent and if any bowler thought Steve's tendency to expose the leg stump made him an easy target forget to their chagrin the quick silver hand-eye coordination of the man.Similar too was Chanderpaul for that matter. With 19 centuries in 52 Tests, including the Ranchi effort, Steve's quality as a Test batsman can never be questioned or debated. What is more, as of now his averages are next best to Don Bradman, the sport's greatest legend.

Still for all his grumpy looks on the field, the man can exhibit a trick or two up his sleeve, so to say, to attract critics all round. The reference here is to his alleged look up to the dressing room for 'advice' for a DRS, something critics felt was against fair play and for days on end, the media had nothing to portray except this. As they say, to make a mountain of a mole hill is an art of cynics and cricket has plenty of them to keep the pot boiling! As legend Sunil Gavaskar rightly put it in his column later it seemed even when the men who matter (the players) were back to business the writers looked more concerned to keep digging into the incident to evoke fresh reactions.

Be that as it may, one thing is certain like the famous Monkeygate scandal involving Harbhajan Singh and Andrew Symonds in the 2008 away series that continues to be stoked even now, the Steve-incident will surely get a special mention in discussions of Australia-India cricket series for sometime to come. One only hopes that there is nothing more to this before the current series gets over. In any case, a series involving Australia and India has always been surcharged. Perhaps it had to with the sledging issue that keeps coming up on the even of any series involving the two countries. More so this time when Indian cricket was truly flying high with successive wins.

As it happens, the contest this time has boiled down to mirror even minor reflections on the field, magnified by television, to spice up the scene. Like the Virat Kohli's shoulder injury mimics! One wonders what will be the next point of interest. Suddenly everybody seems to forget the main course which is the bat-ball tussle. Already there is a departure from the trend of the earlier two Tests with tall scores and does that ensure that there can be just one result in Ranchi_ a DRAW ? Or is there a room for cricket's glorious uncertainty!