Cheteshwar Pujara breaks down Steve Smith's unique batting technique
From one great Test batter to another, Indian stalwart Cheteshwar Pujara provided a simple breakdown of the unique technique with which Australian modern-day giant Steve Smith continues to dominate Test match cricket.
Among the rarest of rare right-handers with a downswing, stance and overall approach to the bat that couldn't be more away from the traditional mode of operation, Smith averages above 60 at the Test level despite it.
The 33-year-old Aussie batting linchpin has scored a whopping 8,647 runs in 92 Tests at an average of 60.89, with his tally featuring 30 centuries and 37 fifties. There is no more dominant Test match batter in the world, which has over the years come to vindicate the player's well-horned methods and technique.
It's that technique that got Pujara's brain ticking in a video feature for ESPNcricinfo as he broke down its nitty-gritties prior to the long-awaited Border-Gavaskar Trophy, where the two players will try to outperform each other and help their team win. In Pujara's case, have another BGT campaign where he is perhaps the single biggest difference among the batters.
Cheteshwar Pujara on Steve Smith's technique
"Steve Smith has a completely different technique compared to other players but he knows how to score runs," Pujara told ESPNcricinfo. "He knows his strengths, he knows which bowlers he can target and which are his areas where he score runs."
Pujara talked about Smith's uniquely-built middle and leg-stump guard, one from where he takes a back-and-across movement to the off-stump. A fall-out of the method is Smith being an LBW candidate but the player is so good with his hand-eye coordination and reflexes to handle the straight ball that he turns it into a scoring option to the on-side.
"Everyone knows he covers his middle-stump, he prefers to stay on the middle and the leg-stump. Very rarely we see him standing on the off-stump and get out LBW. What he (essentially) wants bowlers to do is to bowl at him (at the body)."
Pujara said Smith is extremely patient and willing to leave balls outside the off-stump until he forces the bowler to land the ball to his strength with the flick and the pull shots. Seeing the exceptional player hardly drive on the up or do it very judiciously, Pujara said, "he will wait for the ball to be short enough to play the cut".
"He is very good on the pull shot and the hook shot," he added. "His hand-eye coordination is very good. Even when he does drive the ball, he makes sure that the line of the ball is closer to him. It's not that his feet will be in this position (different alignment) and the ball will be there."