Indian cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar has heaped praise on Steve Smith after admitting the Aussie star’s "organised mindset" and "complicated technique" set him apart among from his rivals.
Tendulkar - regarded as one of the finest batsmen the sport has ever seen - says he was amazed by Smith’s impact since making his comeback from a 12-month ban over the ‘sandpapergate’ scandal.
Smith, who served a one-year ban for his involvement in the infamous ball-tampering scandal in South Africa, amassed a whopping 774 runs from seven innings at an incredible average of 110.57 in the recent Ashes series against England.
Smith’s uniquely unorthodox style has taken the cricket world by storm, with fans marvelling at his mastery during Australia’s Ashes campaign.
Tendulkar posted a three-minute video on social media to dissect the technique that has tormented England’s bowlers and captivated cricket lovers worldwide.
Test cricket’s greatest run-scorer said Smith’s measured and intelligent approach was key to his astonishing consistency.
"In the first Test, the English bowlers tried to get him caught behind the wickets with slips and gully in place," Tendulkar explained.
"And Smith just shuffled across and exposed his leg stumps to cover the line, and was selective and smart in his approach.
Tendulkar admits there were slight flaws in Smith's game that were exposed after the introduction of Jofra Archer for the second Test and highlighted by the bouncer that ruled the Aussie star out of the third Test.
What a great ashes series! Thank you everyone for all the support, it’s been an fantastic couple of months. Whilst we didn’t get the exact result we were after, still an amazing effort by this team to retain the ashes https://t.co/28BZFGD4wM— Steve Smith (@stevesmith49) September 18, 2019
“At Lord’s, especially against Jofra Archer, there were a few short-pitched deliveries that got him in trouble because he was actually getting in line (with the short ball) a little bit on the back foot. The most important thing for any batter is to keep your head position forward … or at least in line (with your feet),” Tendulkar offered.
Smith bounced back from adversity in style
“That’s why whenever the short ball was there from Archer and he wasn’t pulling and he got in to defend, he got in to bad positions and that’s how he also got hit.”
What impressed Tendulkar was Smith's ability to learn from his mistakes and adjust his game accordingly.
“I’m sure he’s gone back and worked on his technique and his set-up … In the fourth and fifth Tests, against short-pitched bowling, he was leaving the ball (by ducking forwards) rather than (leaning backwards),” Tendulkar added.
Steve Smith's scores since shirt numbers were introduced into Test cricket— ICC (@ICC) September 13, 2019
1️⃣4️⃣2️⃣ & 1️⃣4️⃣4️⃣ 👉 Edgbaston
9️⃣2️⃣ 👉 Lord's
2️⃣1️⃣1️⃣ & 8️⃣2️⃣ 👉 Old Trafford
7️⃣5️⃣ * 👉 The Oval
Not one score below his shirt number 👏👏👏 pic.twitter.com/1YPZqGygzf
“So, his head was going forward, and whenever Jofra Archer tested him out with short-pitched stuff into his body, he was leaving the ball (correctly).
“He worked on his technique very smartly. That is why I say, 'complicated technique, but extremely organised mindset'."