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Ashes 2019: Smith’s Ability to Adapt Makes Him the Best - Paine

Cricketnext Staff |August 10, 2019, 11:28 AM IST
Ashes 2019: Smith’s Ability to Adapt Makes Him the Best - Paine

Australian captain Tim Paine believes that it is the ability to interpret and counter rival tactics in real time is what Steve Smith the best in the world.

After the first day in Edgbaston, England bowler Stuart Broad echoed similar thoughts when he said that their plans against Smith might need tweaks or an overhaul if they wanted success against him.

Smith went onto score 144 and 142 to set up Australia’s 251-run win, breaking the Edgbaston voodoo in the process.

The 30-year-old now averages a whisker under 63 in Test cricket – the second-highest average behind Sir Donald Bradman's 99.94 among players who have batted 50 times – and has amassed 1116 runs at 139.5 in his last 10 innings against England.

Australian coach Justin Langer called Smith the "best problem-solver in the game" and while Paine does not think England need to start from scratch with their strategies for Smith, he says the Australian run machine renders most plans ineffective with how fast he recognises a potential threat and finds a solution.

"Steve Smith averages over 60 in Test cricket, so I think the beauty of Steve is you can come up with a plan but he's good enough to adapt really quickly," Paine said in Worcester on Friday in the wake of Australia's drawn tour match at New Road.

"I've seen him do it between balls, I've seen him do it when guys have targeted him from one end a certain way and a completely different way from the other end.

"I think that's what makes him the best player in the world, his ability to adapt to any plan that is thrown at him.

"I think he processes it quicker than other players and adapts on the spot."

While Smith, unsurprisingly dominates on home turf, his problem solving instincts has seen him score well in almost all conditions.

In India, Smith became the first Australian captain to score three centuries in a series. He has also scored tons in New Zealand and England, and while he's yet so score a hundred on a lush, green pitch abroad, his unbeaten 48 out of a total of just 85 on a seaming wicket in Hobart against a rampant South African pace attack in 2016 showed he could survive and score when the ball nipped around.

Steve Waugh, one of Australia’s most celebrated captains, has scored a Test century in each of the cricketing continents and has been blown away by how Smith takes in information and responds.

"He knows the opposition, what they're trying to do, how they're trying to get him out and he seems to have an answer for everything," Waugh told Wide World of Sports during the first Test.

"He's an incredible player. I don't think I've ever seen anyone quite like him and his appetite for runs is second to none.

"His technique is amazing, it's unique, but he knows what he's doing, he knows how to score runs.

"It's like he analyses every ball, and it's like a computer – he spits out the answer."

Teammate Mitch Starc has bowled to Smith for the past decade in the nets and enjoyed watching his teammate rack up run after run and break records along with the way.

But when asked if he had any sympathy for his English counterparts, Starc was quick to answer with a smile.

"Not a bit. I’m glad he’s on our team."

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