Steve Smith, the global problem solver

·2-min read

Cricket's greatest problem solver has found the answer to the sport's greatest conundrum: how to perform as well overseas as you do on home soil.

Take a bow, Steve Smith, who has now scored as many centuries away as he has at home after bringing up his 14th on foreign turf against Sri Lanka.

Smith's unbeaten 145 in the first innings has already proved crucial, with Sri Lanka 2-184 in reply to Australia's 364 after Saturday's day two.

But it has also only added to his impressive record all around the world, averaging 58.35 away from home, compared to 62.91 in Australia.

In Test cricket history, only Don Bradman, Ken Barrington, Walter Hammond and Jack Hobbs have averaged better overseas than Smith over a sustained period.

And Smith is the only one of those to have featured in the past 50 years, where home-ground advantage has become more and more apparent.

"You have to find different methods home and away that suit the conditions you are playing in," Smith said, adding it was something he had prided himself on.

"I play different in England to how I do here (in Sri Lanka), different in the West Indies to how I play back in Australia.

"It's just about adapting to what the conditions entail and playing according to them for long periods of time.

"Experience has helped me learn that and get better at it."

Smith had spoken at length before the Sri Lanka series began about how he had missed playing away from home on spinning wickets.

Stuck in Australia during the pandemic, Smith had only scored one Test century since the end of the 2019 Ashes before his latest knock in Galle.

Armed with a different approach to most of Australia's batters, Smith is more willing to use his crease and drove superbly in his knock while also accumulating runs with ease.

"I enjoy playing away from home ... and the challenge of being able to adapt to foreign conditions," Smith said.

"I've missed it. We only had the three Tests in Pakistan, before that we had a pretty long layoff because of COVID."

But the 33-year-old was adamant he had been honest before the series in saying his century-drought of 18 months had not been playing on his mind.

"I was pretty relaxed to be honest. I feel like I've been batting pretty well without getting a big score," Smith said.

"I've contributed - the Tests in Pakistan I think I got to 50 three times.

"It was nice to get to three figures, like it always is.

"I felt switched on from ball one, I was very focused. I got myself in a nice place where I just go out and play."

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