Strength of character, force of will: captain’s knock. Say what you like about Steve Smith’s double hundred at the WACA that looks to have cemented the series in Australia’s favour, but his record shows it isn’t out of the ordinary. When he gets to three figures, you should expect him to go very big! The Stats Zone explains...
It is too simplistic to say that Steve Smith has hit two hundreds that have settled The Ashes but it isn’t a million miles away from the truth. His unbeaten 141 in Brisbane turned a potential deficit into what turned into a mentality-transforming slender lead and whilst his crease-bound swagger was concerning for England fans at 55/2 in Perth responding to England’s 403, he seldom looked in danger on the third day.
What is concerning for English fans is that of Smith’s tons, his average innings is 214.47 – admittedly emhanced by seven unbeaten knocks in that number but also proof that getting to three figures alone is not always enough.
England made 400 and allowed their fans to breathe a sigh of relief but a look at the last two away Tests where they did so puts this match into context. In Mumbai last December, the tourists made 400 first up thanks to a ton from Keaton Jennings, only to lose by an innings as Virat Kohli made 235: a ‘Daddy hundred’ to use the phrase coined by Graham Gooch. The following week in Chennai, Moeen Ali gave England a platform with 146 batting at number four, only for Karun Nair to smash an unbeaten triple-hundred and send England to an innings loss one more time.
We have spent the best part of this tour discussing the major differences between the sides but this is one major difference between the sides. England can be expected to be second-best on their travels but with the tours to Australia and India to date, opposing players who have made it to three figures have averaged 222.5, emboldened by Smith and Shaun Marsh being unbeaten in Brisbane and Adelaide respectively and not including the innings’ in progress here. England have knocked up eight tons in answer to those 11, but make only 127 by comparison.
Smith made a hundred and that wasn’t the end of the journey. Outside of England, the tourists need to do the same, starting in the second dig.