Ricky Ponting, Australia’s leading run-scorer and most successful captain, called Steve Smith a ‘genius’ after the latter slammed his third Ashes double ton at Old Trafford on Thursday.
Notching up his 26th Test century, Smith ensured that his country was in a dominant position and England, on the backfoot.
His daddy hundred (211) included 24 fours and two sixes.
“You hear all sorts of words, ‘genius’ is one that comes to mind,” the Australian legend told cricket.com.au when asked to describe Smith’s innings in a nutshell.
“A remarkable innings again today. It’s his application to what he does. He just doesn’t make any mistakes. His concentration levels are obviously unbelievably good,” he added.
“He’s got a game plan that’s working incredibly well for him to the point where it just looks like teams have no idea how they’re going to bowl to him, where they’re going to bowl to him, how they’re going to get him out.”
“Right now, he’s on top of his game but he’s also got every opposition team exactly where he wants them.”
England simply couldn’t figure out how to dismiss the in-form batsman.
“To sit back and watch it all unfold again today and sit in the commentary box with the English commentators – they’re just continually asking ‘how are we going to get him out? Someone do something to get him out,'” Ponting said.
Smith did have some luck on his side as once, he was dropped by Jofra Archer and later, survived due to a no-ball bowled by Jack Leach.
Ponting said England would have to do things differently to at least make scoring runs difficult for the Australia talisman.
“He’s only been out nine times lbw in his last 99 innings, so you know if you’re bowling straight you’re not going to get him out.”
“He doesn’t hit the ball in the air through the on-side and he doesn’t miss them and get lbw.”
“They have to think about going the other way. If he’s going to get 200 make him get 160 of those on the off-side, not 150 of those on the leg-side and just see how you go there.”
“The one thing you have to do is try and challenge the outside of his bat. He doesn’t miss it on the inside.”
“If you miss it on the inside you’re getting lbws, but he doesn’t get out lbw.”
“He’s not missing on the inside of his bat, (so) try and challenge the outside of his bat for long periods of time, maybe put some protection on the off-side.”
“This has all been spoken about before and most teams have tried it and they’ve tried around the wicket, they’ve tried over the wicket, they’ve tried short, they’ve tried full.”
“He’ll work out a style of play that’s going to be better than what the opposition’s got.”
Steve Smith has been so good with the willow that his performance has compelled people to compare him to Don Bradman.
However, Ponting says no player will ever equal Bradman’s numbers. But Smith certainly is on track to go down as one of the greatest to play the game.
“Even what Smithy is doing now is remarkable, to think how good Bradman must have been to be a third again better than what Steve Smith’s doing at the moment is ridiculous,” the former right-hander said.
“If he keeps playing and plays as much as we think he can play, he’s in his early thirties now, he’s got four, five, six years of good cricket ahead of him, which if you add it up that’s probably another 80, 90 Test matches.”
“Then he’s played 150 games and could have all sorts of numbers and records by then and let’s hope he does, because the way he’s going about it now, the way he’s playing he deserves to get the rewards from that.”
“You don’t always get those things in life but what he’s doing he deserves to go down as one of the greats,” Ponting concluded.