Steve Smith’s absence for the third Ashes Test against England poses a big dilemma for Australia.
The 30-year-old has been ruled out of the Headingley contest as a result of the concussion he sustained from a Jofra Archer bouncer in the drawn Lord’s contest.
Smith, returning to the Test arena following a ban for his role in the 2018 ball-tampering scandal in South Africa, has been the outstanding player in the series and his numbers make for astonishing reading.
A pair of centuries in the opening Test at Edgbaston helped Australia secure a 251-run rout of England and they must prepare to protect a 1-0 lead without their talisman.
Below, we look at Smith’s exceptional numbers from the 2019 Ashes series thus far.
— ICC (@ICC) August 20, 2019
378 – From three innings over two Tests, Smith already has an astounding 378 runs. To put that into context, next on the list of most runs in the series is England’s Rory Burns with 226.
144 – Smith’s highest score of the series was 144 in the first innings of the Edgbaston Test. It proved a pivotal moment as Australia were reeling at 122-8 before Smith put on 88 with Peter Siddle.
126 – The 30-year-old’s average for the series thus far is a remarkable 126. England all-rounder Ben Stokes sits at 61.33, the next best so far.
587 – England have thrown down 587 deliveries at Smith over the Tests at Edgbaston and Lord’s, with the hosts’ attack struggling to solve the conundrum of how to oust their nemesis.
64.39 – It is not just the volume of runs Smith is scoring but the speed at which he is doing so, with his strike rate at 64.39.
44 – Of the 587 balls Smith has faced, he has knocked 44 away to the boundary for four runs.
2 – Sixes are, naturally, not as commonplace in five-day cricket as in other forms but Smith has managed to clear the ropes on a couple of occasions.