'Legend'. 'Genius'. 'Freak'. These adjectives have defined Steve Smith as a batsman during the ongoing Ashes series in England. Smith has been the lone factor in Australia retaining the Ashes urn in England for the first time in 18 years. The right-hander's twin tons in Edgbaston and his blazing double century in Old Trafford have played a pivotal part in Australia taking a 2-1 series lead with one Test to play at The Oval on September 12. Smith faced up to a pace barrage from Jofra Archer at Lord's and was hit on the side of the neck which resulted in him being substituted for concussion in the second innings and missing the Leeds Test which Australia lost by one wicket thanks to Ben Stokes' brilliant century.
Had Smith played in those three innings, he could have been on the cusp of breaking Sir Donald Bradman's tally of most runs in a series, which currently stands at 974. Smith currently has 671 runs and will require a triple century to overtake Bradman's tally. However, when one looks at his streak against England and his record at The Oval, there is a chance that Smith might create history when the fifth Test begins.
Smith's current streak against England is on par with Bradman when it comes to run-scoring consistency. The right-hander has smashed nine consecutive fifty-plus scores against England in Ashes contests and it started from the Perth Test in 2017. After falling for 40 and 8 in the Pink Ball Test in Adelaide, Smith has been in tremendous form and he began the streak with a blazing 239 at the WACA, his second double ton and highest individual score as Australia won the Ashes back from England.
In the Melbourne Test, Smith smashed 76 and 102* and rounded off the series with a brilliant 83 in Sydney as Australia won the series 4-0. Heading into the 2019 contest against England, Smith had added motivation. Making a return to the national side after being banned for 12 months due to the ball-tampering scandal in Cape Town against South Africa, Smith faced intense booing and jeering from the Edgbaston crowd. However, Smith responded by smashing 144 and 142 as Australia won a Test in Edgbaston for the first time in 18 years.
Smith faced up to a bouncer barrage from Archer and retired hurt after he was hit on the side of the neck by a 93 mph bouncer. However, Smith resumed and moved to 92 before being trapped LBW by Chris Woakes. After missing the Leeds Test, Smith smashed his third Ashes double century in Old Trafford and his 211, combined with 82 in the second innings laid the foundation for Australia to win in Manchester and retain the Urn.
Smith's record at The Oval, the venue for the fifth and final Test, is impressive. In 2013, Smith smashed the first of his 11 Ashes tons against England when he hit 138. Australia lost the series 0-3 but Smith had announced himself on the world stage. In 2015, Smith hammered 143 to help Australia earn a consolation win after they had lost the Ashes by a margin of 2-3. Having helped Australia retain the Ashes on England soil, Smith will be determined to match Bradman's feat and help Australia win a series in England for the first time since 2001.