England’s Ben Stokes has said his Australian rival and IPL teammate Steve Smith is a “genius” as well as “strange” as he hailed the number one Test batsman. “He’s still strange to play against and he’s still strange to play with. And the best thing about it is that he admits it,” Stokes said in a podcast broadcast by their Indian Premier League side Rajasthan Royals on Tuesday. “But I feel to be a genius you have to be a bit strange and you know he’s certainly both,” Stokes said from Britain. “Personally, I could not think about cricket in the way that he does when it comes to batting. I could never be like that. Obviously, he’s on all the time but that’s why he averages 60-plus in Test cricket.”
The 30-year-old Smith averages over 62 in 73 Tests and improves to 65.11 when playing against arch-rivals England.
Smith was the leading scorer in the 2019 Ashes in England, retained by Australia after the series finished 2-2, with a whopping 774 runs in four matches.
“Even though he plays for Australia, biggest rivals England and Australia, you’ve just got to hold your hands up sometimes to players like that and go ‘yeah you’re on a different level when it comes to batting,'” said Stokes, who scored 441 runs in five matches during the series.
“You have to be on a different level with something to be like those guys when it comes to batting.”
The flamboyant all-rounder also threw his backing behind Test cricket, saying the five-day format is the “pinnacle” for him and there is no room to tinker with it.
The International Cricket Council has floated the idea of four-day Tests to deal with the cluttered cricket calendar, but the plan met with intense criticism from many within the game.