Sachin Tendulkar, who set a benchmark for batsmanship throughout his 24-year-long international career, praised Steve Smith, the top batsman in Tests right now, for his extraordinary comeback in red-ball cricket.
Tendulkar, for the most part of his career, was a dream wicket for any bowler and a nightmare for his opponents. So has Steve Smith been in the modern-day game, with his impeccable consistency in the longest format. The 30-year-old harried the England bowlers in the recent Ashes series – just as he did in the previous edition Down Under – aggregating 774 runs from seven innings at a staggering average of 110.57.
Both Tendulkar and Smith have earned comparisons to the legendary Don Bradman, too. While Tendulkar was hailed by Bradman himself for his batting style, Smith has matched the Australian great with his consistency, an average of 64.56 setting him apart from his peers.
Smith batting style is unique, reflecting both unorthodoxy and genius. Tendulkar, in a social media post on Thursday, 19 September, attempted to break down his batting during the Ashes.
"In the first Test, the English bowlers tried to get him caught behind the wickets with slips and gully in place," the Indian explained. "And Smith just shuffled across and exposed his leg stumps to cover the line, and was selective and smart in his approach. At Lord's, they had leg-slip for him on occasions and a few short-pitched deliveries against Jofra Archer got him in trouble as he tried to cover the line with the weight on his back-foot."
Smith got hit by a vicious Archer bouncer in the first innings at Lord's and couldn't return to bat in the second innings, ultimately forced to miss the following Test at Headingley as he recovered from a delayed concussion. Tendulkar explained the ideal technique to deal with short-pitched stuff.
"The most important thing for any batsman is to keep the head position forward and wait leaning forward or marginally in-line," said the only player to feature in 200 Tests. "Smith got into bad positions and that's how he probably got hit."
7️⃣ innings— ICC (@ICC) September 16, 2019
2️⃣1️⃣1️⃣ high score
Just how good is this man? pic.twitter.com/L3zjs61dcS
However, the mark of a champion is the way in which he comes back fighting. Smith, returning for the fourth Test in Manchester, registered his third hundred of the series and, this time, converted it into a double. He batted with better control than in the second Test at Lord's, scoring 23.22% of his runs through covers, while the flick remained his most productive stroke, yielding 69 of his 211 runs.
Tendulkar was impressed with how Smith had resurrected his technique and approach. "In the final two Tests, he was leaving the ball while leaning forward, and looked in better positions," he said. "He worked on his technique very smartly. That is why I say, 'complicated technique, but extremely organised mindset'."
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