The new Bradman? Quirky Smith rises to exalted heights
Sydney: Steve Smith has broken English hearts and smashed records with his phenomenal Ashes batting and is being acclaimed as the best Australian batsman since the greatest of all, Don Bradman.
That is rarefied company for the quirky 28-year-old skipper, who led Australia to reclaiming the Ashes with an imperious 239 — his highest Test score — in Australia's mammoth first innings 662 for nine declared in the third Perth Test victory on Monday.
Ashes-winning skipper Smith has almost single-handedly batted Joe Root's team out of the series, accumulating 426 runs in just four innings at an average of 142, which allowed his bowlers to do the rest.
Smith, whose idiosyncratic style — moving across his stumps as the bowler delivers — flies in the face of cricket's purists, has a career average of 62.32 from 59 Tests.
That places him second only in Test history to Bradman, whose average of 99.94 at the pinnacle was forged from 1928- 48.
Records have tumbled for the cricket-obsessive Smith, who broke into the Test arena as a leg-spin bowling all-rounder batting at number eight in 2010.
Since then Smith has reeled off the milestones to draw comparison with the greatest batsman the game has ever seen.
He has amassed 22 Test centuries, 14 of them in 29 Tests as captain.
Bradman made 14 hundreds in 24 Tests as skipper.
Smith is only the fifth Australian captain, one of them being Bradman, to have scored two Ashes double hundreds.
Skipper Root has tried everything during the current series to dislodge Smith, to get him out of his "bubble", but to little effect.