Steve Smith has been constantly criticized for his unconventional batting style right from his early days. Incidentally, the right-hander had made his international debut as a leg-spinner when Cricket Australia was looking for a replacement for Shane Warne. However, Smith turned out to be a better batsman than he was a leggie.
His unique, fidgety way of batting has not only got him many fans all over the world but has got him 6973 runs in 68 Tests at an astonishing average of 64.56 with 26 centuries and 27 fifties to his name. He recently slammed 774 runs in 4 Tests in the recently concluded Ashes 2019 series with the best score of 211. His coach in formative years Trent Woodhill, however, has opined that if Steve had been an Indian, his batting style wouldn’t have been criticized as much as it is.
In Australia we wanted you to score well and we wanted you to look good
“If Steven was Indian, his technique and mechanics and the strategy around his batting would just be accepted. We see Kohli, Gavaskar, (Rohit) Sharma, Ganguly, Sehwag – all these players have unique techniques. The Indian system is all about output, about scoring runs, ‘We don’t care how you do it as long as you do it’, whereas in Australia we wanted you to score well and we wanted you to look good,” Woodhill was quoted as saying by ESPNCricinfo.
He called the dressing room in Australian cricket a brutal place for a young player, who is not conventional and has a technique that doesn’t match the accepted styles of batsmanship. “A cricket dressing room can be a brutal place for a young player, who might be forced to conform – more so in Australia than any other country I’ve been in. In Australia, we struggle with things that are different. We like a sexy Shaun Marsh thirty, made with a conventional, attractive technique, rather than an unconventional Steven Smith hundred,” Woodhill further explained.
Woodhill also gave examples of how other countries accepted bowlers like Rashid Khan, who despite being a leg-spinner, holds the ball like an off-spinner. Or how India accepted and celebrated the success of Anil Kumble, who had seam-up, wrist-spin, predominantly wrong’un style of bowling. He went onto further say that Smith is the best since Bradman without an argument.
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