Australia skipper Steven Smith’s phenomenal run with the bat has taken the world of cricket by surprise. The right-handed batsman, who began his career as a leg-spinner, scored his 22nd Test century on Saturday (December 16) when he finished the third day’s proceedings of the ongoing Ashes Test on 229 not out.
Smith, who made his maiden century in August 2013, has been churning out runs like no other in the white jersey. Since his maiden Test century four years ago, the 28-year old has taken his tally of three-figure scores to 22.
No one else has made more than 17 in the same period. In that time-frame, he averages a stunning 72.76. It is a remarkable turnaround for a player who was dropped from the side for under-performing as a bowler. And one can get a measure of how hard the Australia star works from the fact he does not even spare his girlfriend Dani Willis to get some batting practice.
Smith has arguably become the most consistent run-getter of this generation, thanks to his commitment to time in the nets and uses his fiancee as a bowling-machine operator.
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“He sets everything up and I just load the balls,” Willis said. “He’s very intense, staying in the zone all the time.”
Warren Craig, Smith’s manager, lauded Willis’ contribution to Smith’s success, saying:
“Dani enjoys that part of things. She has been absolutely fantastic for Steve.
‘She is such a pivotal part of the success of what you see on the field. She’s a calming influence. She knows when his mind is ticking over too much, to sort of get his mind away from cricket. They are a great couple,” Craig added.
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Meanwhile, Australia is firmly in command of the proceedings of the ongoing third Test after finishing day three on 549 for four with Smith playing on 229 and Mitchell Marsh on 181. The duo added 301-run stand to help Australia finish the day with a big lead of 146.
Speaking after the day’s play, Marsh said:
“They [England] are obviously tired, and it’s hard work anytime you spend 140 overs in the dirt. You walk off very tired and sore. I am not sure we have broken their spirit, but we have put ourselves in a great position to win. Going into the fourth day only four down gives us the chance to put the foot on their throat.”
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