The independent voice of cricket


Steve Smith a genius, but ‘strange’ to play with or against – Ben Stokes

by Wisden Staff 1 minute read

England all-rounder Ben Stokes has said Australia’s Steve Smith is a “strange” batsman to play both with and against, and hailed him a “genius”.

Smith played the pivotal role as Australia retained the Ashes in England for the first time in 18 years in 2019. He scored a staggering 774 runs in four matches, scoring three centuries and as many fifties, at an average of 110.57 – nearly twice that of Stokes, who was second on the run-scorers’ list that series.

Stokes admitted Smith was “strange” the way he went about his cricket, but said that’s what set him apart. “He (Smith) is 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 on the Rajasthan Royals Podcast about his IPL teammate. “He knows it. But I feel to be a genius you have to be a bit strange and you know he’s certainly both.

“Even though he plays for Australia, biggest rivals of England, you’ve just got to hold your hands up sometimes to players like that and say, ‘Yeah, you’re on a different level when it comes to batting.’”

Stokes himself had a fine Ashes series last year, when he single-handedly kept England in the series with his late heroics at Headingley in the third Test. The knock came shortly after his decisive hand in the World Cup 2019 final as England won the tournament for the first time, propelling Stokes to legendary status.

Stokes, however, said he was a different sort of cricketer, unlike Smith who is “on” all the time when it come to batting. “I could never be like that,” Stokes said. “Personally, I could not think about cricket in the way that Steve does when it comes to batting.

“Obviously, he’s on all the time. That’s why he averages 60 [62.84] after whatever he does in Test cricket. But that’s not for me. It is for him, [and] who’s to say who is right or wrong.”

Subscribe to the Rajasthan Royals YouTube channel for more exclusive cricket content.

Have Your Say

Become a Wisden member

  • Exclusive offers and competitions
  • Money-can’t-buy experiences
  • Join the Wisden community
  • Sign up for free
Latest magazine

Get the magazine

12 Issues for just £39.99