Steve Smith has received the Allan Border Medal as the most outstanding Australian cricketer of the year, a medal that actually means something, as it is awarded based on a vote of cricket players, umpire and the media.
That last group could probably be safely left out and in the case of Smith, no one would be the poorer for it.
It only takes a few of Smith’s numbers to understand why he has won for the second time.
He played 11 Test matches in the past year, tallying 1305 runs at 81.56. He notched six tons and had a high score of 239. Smith was also “okay” in ODI play, taking the pitch 13 times and racking up a total of 440 runs at 44.90, with a high score of 108 not out.
What may have sealed the deal for Smith, however, was his play in India during the Border-Gavaskar Test series, where he recorded 499 runs at 71.28, with three centuries and a high score of 178 not out.
Readers may recall that the Indian groundskeepers prepared some of the most anti-Australian friendly pitches that could be imagined, yet Smith set a recorded for most hundreds by an Australian batsman in a tour of India.
Smith could not singlehandedly propel the Aussies over India, but the final 2 – 1 scoreline was a vast improvement from what was expected to be a 4 – 0 spanking.
Smith was almost singlehandedly responsible for the whitewash of England in the Ashes. He scored 687 at 137.40 and it was in the Ashes series that he recorded his 239 smash.
Those 687 runs were the best by an Australian since World War II. Mark Taylor scored more in 1989, but his 839 might need to include an asterisk, as it was a six Test series at that time.
At the tail of 2017, Smith finds himself with an ICC rating of 947 points, well within shouting distance of the Don himself, who peaked at 961 in 1948.