The floor in Steve Smith’s hotel room could get a pounding this week, and he could be keeping all his teammates awake.
Smith’s Boxing Day duck, his first in 51 Test innings and four years, continued a lean trot of not just runs but the thing he craves most, batting.
In three innings through the two Tests against India, Smith, who is the first in the nets, and last to leave, forever looking for someone to feed him balls to feed his insatiable appetite, has faced just 38 balls.
He’s made two runs. Two.
Between his last duck, in Perth in 2016, and his MCG failure, Smith has been near unstoppable.
He scored 3096 runs at an average of 70, and assumed the mantle as the best Test batsman in the world.
No stronger was his domination than in the 2019 Ashes in England.
Smith only played four Tests, courtesy of a knockout blow at Lords, but still pounded 774 runs, the fifth-highest ever in an Ashes series.
It was more remarkable given it was Smith’s first Test series back from suspension for his involvement in the sandpaper scandal in South Africa.
He’d waited so long to bat, he let fly again.
But since those remarkable feats, Smith, compared to Sir Donald Bradman, has been anything but Bradman-esque.
Before the opening ball against India in Adelaide, Smith had gone seven Test innings without a century.
Not a lot for plenty, but a lot for Smith.
He didn’t get one against either Pakistan or New Zealand last summer, when his teammates feasted on underwhelming bowling attacks.
If you add in the three innings against India, Smith has just 256 runs in his last 10 innings and it’s now been 478 days without a Test hundred.
Smith did get a couple of pretty special back-to-back ODI centuries against India just a month ago, and both were off 60-odd balls too, so he’s not that out of nick.
But his duck at the MCG was his lowest return against the red ball in Melbourne, where he has a Test average of 100.8, since his debut Boxing Day Test in 2010,when he made six.
Smith’s dismissal was also his second in a row to Indian spinner Ravi Ashwin, who couldn’t buy a wicket when he came to Australia in 2018/19.
Tets great Mike Hussey said the indians may have worked out the perfect plan to trap Smith, who was caught in leg-gully.
“There’s definitely been a shift from this Indian team,” Michael Hussey told foxsports.com.au
“In the past, because Steve Smith walks across the crease so much, teams have bowled wide to him and with that they set a more off-side field and hope he’s going to hit the ball through there.
“But I think this Indian team have gone the other way. They know his strength is off the pads, so they’ve put fielders there to block up the runs but then bowled straight at the stumps, so he just has to miss one or edge one – he is human and can get something wrong – and unfortunately it has worked.”
Smith said this week batting on Boxing Day was like a dream.
““You get the shivers down your spine when you walk out to bat on Boxing Day, the crowd yelling,” he said last week.
“It’s sort of like a dream come true in a way.”
A duck was instead his worst nightmare, which could ensure much hotel room shadow batting before he gets his second chance at the MCG later in the match.
STEVE SMITH’S LAST 10 TEST INNINGS
4, 36, 43, 16, 85, 7, 63, 1, 1*, 0
256 runs @ 28