(Australian Associated Press)
Steve Smith can set his sights on being the world’s best batsman across all three formats after showing off his Twenty20 class, according to coach Justin Langer.
Smith has emerged out of the T20 darkness in the past week to dominate the start of the summer for Australia.
The former captain has piled on 146 runs against Sri Lanka and Pakistan and been dismissed just once.
His 80 not out in Canberra on Tuesday night was a knock of wizardry and arguably his best T20 innings for his country.
He played every shot in the textbook and some from well outside it as he flayed the Pakistan bowlers to all parts and timed Australia’s chase of 151 to perfection.
However, it came after his T20 prowess was questioned by some headed into the summer, given he recently averaged only 21 for Australia in the format.
Often overlooked in that though is the fact he began his career as a spinner, with his average and strike rate significantly higher since the start of 2014.
“Anyone who questions Steve Smith and anything to do with batting puts a smile on your face,” Langer said.
“That’s his greatest strength is his ability to solve problems. Whether it is Test cricket or T20 cricket, that’s what he is so good at.
“The best players in the world do it. The best players adapt to white or red ball, 20-over or Test cricket. It’s not a fluke that he is a great player.”
Smith is likely to develop his T20 game even more over the next year, as Australia turn their focus towards a home World Cup.
He is already the world’s top-ranked Test batsman despite missing a year to his ban, with the best average of any player since Don Bradman.
He also sits at No.27 on the one-day lists, but proved a crucial component of Australia’s World Cup side when the going got tough in England.
Incredibly, he doesn’t even feature in the ICC’s top-100 ranked T20 batsmen, as he went more than three-and-a-half years between games for Australia before last month.
The global debate surrounding the world’s best batsman mantle between Smith and Virat Kohli often rules that Smith is the king of the red ball while Kohli dominates the white.
But Langer said there was no reason why Smith couldn’t climb to the top of the T20 tree.
“Hopefully he is ranked No.1 in all three forms,” Langer said.
“I’m sure he will be aspiring to do that. Hopefully all our players are aspiring to it as well.
“(Tuesday) night was just sublime. He plays shots where you just shake your head.
“You’re sitting on the bench with the boys and they’re just looking at me going: ‘how does he do that?’
“It’s got me buggered, I don’t know. He is getting better and better which is great for Australian cricket.”