A beaming Steven Smith proclaimed with pride that his outstanding one-day batting performance against England was the greatest he had experienced in six years. In advance of the Australian Test season, West Indies and South Africa will beterrified by the audacious boast made by one of the nation's best batters.
At Adelaide Oval on Thursday, Smith smashed an unbeaten 80 off 78 balls to give Australia a 1-0 lead in the three-match ODI series against world champions England.
"I was just in really nice positions and I felt really good, I honestly haven't felt that way in six years or so. It's been nice to score some runs in that time and we're always looking for perfection, and for me yesterday was as close to perfection as I will get."
Smith attributes a year-long process to helping him find his best posture and technique, which now sees him keeping more side-on to the ball and not making the dramatic hop over the crease. He noted that his most recent effort felt a world away from his previous ODI innings In which he hit a century in, against New Zealand in September.
"In Cairns on a slow wicket I still felt a little bit rushed and wasn't quite happy with the positions I was getting in whereas yesterday I just felt, a couple of the cover drives I hit, I know I'm batting really well when I've got my weight going through the ball."
Despite missing all but one game of the most recent T20 World Cup, Smith has managed to maintain an impressive record in ODI cricket. He has averaged 54.84 in ODIs since serving his suspension at the 2019 ODI World Cup, and since the start of 2020, his average has increased to an even more amazing 66.13.
Smith noted a six-year period during which he hadn't felt this good at the wicket, which included his outstanding 2019 Ashes performance in England, where he averaged 110.57. And since 2016, during the previous six years, he has averaged 61.77. With only two hundreds since the 2019 Ashes, Smith has had a dry spell in the Test arena by his high standards.
"I've been working on a few things, it's almost been a six-month or 12-month process,"
"The start of last summer, I tried to get my hands back to where they were in 2015."
"I feel like I'm staying a bit more side-on now and I've got my feet and hands in sync together. [Thursday] was probably the first time I've actually had extended time in the middle with that change."
"It's hard to base something on one innings but it felt as though things clicked for me like they did at the WACA in 2013. Hopefully it's the start of a big summer."
In 87 Test matches, Smith has a 60.00 average and 28 hundreds as Australian cricket prepares for a busy year.
Australia will travel to India in February to compete for the Border-Gavaskar trophy after playing two Tests against the West Indies and a three-match series with South Africa. Before the Ashes series in England, in early June, if they get enough points in those series, there will be a World Test Championship final.
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