HE’S just been named the world’s best batsman.
Another century in the second Test of Australia’s 2-0 whitewash of the West Indies gave Australian superstar Steve Smith an amazing ninth century in 17 matches – and five from his last six.
Named man of the match for his 199, Smith is now the ICC’s number one Test batsman and our friends at sportsbet.com.au think he might even be able to surpass the great Ricky Ponting’s record for most Test tons in the baggy green.
Only Sir Donald Bradman has a better strike rate from his first 28 Tests and the bookie has released several markets centred on Smith’s century-making abilities, including how many times he will reach triple figures before he retires.
He’s $7 to eclipse Ponting’s record of 41 centuries, $1.87 to make over 34.5 tons and $2.25 to make three or more hundreds against England in the Ashes.
“Steve Smith just gets better and better every time he goes to the crease and if he continues at his current strike rate for another 10 plus years, not even Sachin Tendulkar’s record of 51 centuries is beyond him,” sportsbet.com.au’s Christian Jantzen said.
“After yet another century England – if they weren’t already – will be thinking a heck of a lot about him right now.”
Smith was named man of the match in the Aussies easy win, coupling his 199 with 54 not out to become the first Australian to top the ICC Test rankings since captain Michael Clarke in 2012.
“Look, I don’t think (my life) has actually changed a great deal,” he told Fairfax Media when asked about his supreme form.
“I try and stay as level-headed as I can and I try not to think about too much externally.
“I just like to concentrate on the job at hand.
“For me at the moment that’s about scoring as many runs as I can.
“I think if you do that and you’re playing good cricket, then life outside of cricket takes care of itself.
The Aussies absolutely dominated the inexperienced West Indies side on its home turf, hammering them in three and four days respectively.
It’s a nice way to go into the Ashes series against England, although the competition is expected to be a little stiffer.
“To win the first one in three days and this one in four days is a fantastic achievement,” Clarke said. “We’ve obviously played really well here.
“We’ve got another tough series coming up in England, but right now it’s about enjoying the success we’ve had here in the West Indies.
“I think we played some really good cricket throughout this series in both Test matches.
Josh Hazlewood won Player of the Series, snaring 12 wickets in the two Tests and Mitchell Johnson caught Aussie fast bowling great Craig McDermott’s figure of 291 scalps.
The Ashes kick off on July 16 in England and Smith says he’s looking forward to the challenge, after struggling on his last trip.
“I think my game has certainly changed a lot over the last two years since we’ve been back there,” Smith said.
“I think I’ve improved in a lot of areas.
“I’m just really looking forward to the challenge of playing over there.
Clarke said the Aussies know exactly what to expect from the old enemy.
“We’ll look forward to that (the Ashes),” Clarke told reporters.
“How they play will not be a surprise to me.
“I’m expecting them to be extremely tough to beat.
“We’ll be really excited by the time that first Test comes around.
“Both teams know each other really well.
“Individually you know what you’re up against, you know how tough it is, and fortunately we’ve got players who’ve spent a lot of time in the UK so we know conditions as well.
“But we have to understand and respect we’ve got to be at our best to continue to have success at home and also away from home.”
The Aussies are overwhelming favourites to retain the Ashes, rated a very skinny $1.18 chance with CrowBet.com.au to do so. As far as the series is concerned, the bookie has the Aussies at $1.33, with England long odds at $4.75 to turn the tables and win it.
Steve Smith markets
How many Test Match centuries will Steve Smith end his career with?: $1.87 Over 34.5
$1.87 Under 34.5
Will Steve Smith score more Test centuries than Ricky Ponting (42)?
How many centuries will Steve Smith score in 2015 Ashes?
$2.25 Over 2.5
$1.60 Under 2.5