Newspaper article Daily News (Warwick, Australia)

Smith Rates among Greats; Australian Captain Set to Continue His Climb, Writes Fox Sports' Joe Barton

Newspaper article Daily News (Warwick, Australia)

Smith Rates among Greats; Australian Captain Set to Continue His Climb, Writes Fox Sports' Joe Barton

Article excerpt

STEVE Smith is one fine innings away from leaping to second spot on the all-time batting rankings behind only the legendary Sir Donald Bradman.

Smith on Tuesday extended his lead atop the ICC's Test batting rankings following his stunning, unbeaten 141 which proved the difference in Australia's heavy 10-wicket Gabba Test victory to draw first blood in the Ashes.

Incredibly, champion Australian batsman and national selector Greg Chappell predicted Smith had his best cricket ahead of him - despite already "leaving everyone for dead".

The innings earned Smith five rankings points and lifted him to 941 points, 53 clear of his nearest rival.

India's Che Pujara leapfrogged Joe Root into second place after the England captain's sluggish performance at the Gabba where he scored 15 and 51.

It is the second time Smith has reached 941 rankings points, having done so earlier this year during Australia's tour of India.

His tally is the fifth-highest in history, bettered only by the incomparable Bradman (961), English duo Len Hutton (945) and Jack Hobbs (942) and Australia's Ricky Ponting (942).

Incredibly, another strong performance in the day-night Test at Adelaide Oval starting Saturday could lift Smith above Ponting, Hutton and Hobbs, leaving only Bradman ahead of him in the history books.

And few would back against Smith to deliver another century after watching his chanceless innings in Brisbane, where he defied England's "modern-era Bodyline'' tactics to dig Australia out of a serious hole in the first innings.

Chappell, considered by many to be Australia's finest batsman outside of Bradman, was blown away by Smith's performances.

After 57 Tests, Smith averages an extraordinary 61.23 with 21 Test centuries.

By comparison, at the same point in their careers, Chappell himself averaged 53 while Ponting, Australia's leading Test run scorer and a genuine colossus of the modern game, averaged 46. …

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