Debate settled - Smith’s the best since Bradman
He really is the best since Bradman.
Steve Smith's extraordinary Test cricket comeback reached a remarkable new height on Sunday as the former skipper plundered added to his first-innings 144 with a second century to further humiliate England at Fortress Edgbaston.
With his chanceless 142 on Sunday, Smith notched a rare first in his incredible career, as it was the first time he'd scored two centuries in the one Test.
And as Smith produces more Bradman-esque performances with the bat, former England opener Geoffrey Boycott encouraged Joe Root to employ some Bradman-esque tactics to dull the prodigious star.
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Smith has churned through the record books this week, notching his 25th Test century and 10th against England.
Only two men in history have more Ashes centuries … one of them being the greatest ever, Sir Donald Bradman who has 19, and the other England's Jack Hobbs (12).
And at just 30, there's so much more time for Smith to rewrite cricket's record books.
Only four other Australians have scored centuries in both innings of an Ashes Test - and the great Bradman is not on the list.
When Smith nudged through a single to raise his 50 early on day four, he became just the second person (after Mike Hussey) to make six consecutive 50+ scores.
Quite simply, he continues to do remarkable things that few have come close to doing in cricket history.
And for the second time this Test, England had no clue as to how to stop the superstar batsmen.
To halt Bradman's magnificence, England created the reviled Bodyline tactic. But Joe Root's men have no such option.
But Boycott urged England to try some unusual tactics to remove the former Australian skipper.
Boycott stopped short of calling for a Bodyline revival, but did say that England had to think outside the box to shut down Smith - drawing the comparison with Bradman along the way.
The short ball and coming around the wicket were two tactics Boycott pushed for - but in truth, England has tried just about everything.
It's just that none of it has worked.
In this Test alone they've tried seven bowlers and employed the funkiest of fields.
The Barmy Army have been at him from the morning of day one. If there's a theory about how rattle Steve Smith, England have tried it.
But the boos have been quietened, with even the Barmy Army worn down by Smith's batting excellence.
This week Smith has been immovable and unflappable in steering Australia into a winning position, and despite it being his first Test back from a 12-month ban, it should come as no surprise.
Since the 2013 Oval Test, where he notched the first century of an extraordinary career, Smith has averaged a scarcely believable 71.8 in 97 innings.
The only word for it is Bradman-esque.
STEVE SMITH'S EXTRAORDINARY NUMBERS
- Smith scored his 10th Ashes hundred, putting him behind only Sir Donald Bradman (19) and Jack Hobbs (12)
- Smith is the fifth Australian to score hundreds in both innings of an Ashes Test. Steve Waugh was the last in 1997.
- Smith's two centuries in the Ashes opener gives him the record of the most runs by an Australian in a Test at Edgbaston
- Smith has more than a third of his 6445 Test runs against England, with 2272 in 24 Tests against the old enemy.
- Smith didn't make an Ashes hundred until his 14th innings against England. He's made another nine hundreds, with two doubles, in 29 innings since.