Australia never lost a Test at Gabba. In the latest match against England, the first of Ashes Series 2017, the visitors emerged quite dominant in the first inning. It was almost a wobble in Australia’s inning when openers David Warner and Cameron Bancroft lost their wickets. It would not be not too much to consider Steven Smith as the only salvager of the inning. His partnerships with the lower order was inconsistent as England used a double attack strategy of using both spin and pace. While Australian batsmen yielded to England one after another, the captain emerged resolute at his strike. It was his patience and an incessant capacity to handle fuming pressure that pulled the team out of its misery.
Smith did not only steer the team to an efficient reply, he also knocked 142 runs hauling his team’s score to a leading position. Reaching the century knock, the captain double punched the team logo on his shirt after kissing his helmet, the regular scene to mark milestones. The century at Gabba was of personal significance to the player. It was his first ton as a captain in Ashes. Also, the knock itself was special because it was the only match winning figure.
Shaun Marsh and Smith partnered for 99 runs to steer the inning steady.
The moment when Smith entered the field, the condition was perilous. Australia was chasing 302 losing 4 wickets for 76 runs. It was a moment that pinched the team’s privilege especially against a backdrop where it has been unbeaten since 1988. The last time when Australian team lost was against West Indies. The latter being equipped with players like Viv Richards and Desmond Haynes.
Smith’s resolution was exemplary. He did not act like David Warner, who lost his wicket trying to notch runs in an impatient mode. Joe Root used his men to deny boundaries pushing them to the outer lines. This plan did not work on Smith. The skipper was much patient than England bowlers, who’s frustration grew, letting the batsman milk scores slowly, but steadily.
With Shaun Marsh, the partnership was of 99 runs. It was the turning point of not only the inning, but the whole match. England bowlers learned, it was futile trying for Smith’s wicket. They focused on the rest and eventually managed to tackle the batting line. Still, the partnership with Pat Cummins took England’s test to a next level. The 32 overs partnership was enough to irritate England bowlers.
Smith played 261 balls for the century. It was an insignia of his on-pitch patience, being the slowest of his Test centuries. It is this resilience of the player that made him the best of cricketers at his age. The feat of 5511 runs in 57 Test is the best in the format’s history. Also, his average is the best, firm at 61.23. Smith is only next to Don Bradman in terms of Test aggregate and matches played. Smith is however, way ahead of players like Ricky Ponting and Sachin Tendulkar, with 21 Test centuries so far.
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