Ranking Smith's terrific 20 Test tons
Since his breakthrough hundred in August 2013, Australia's superstar batsman has barely paused for breath
Sam Ferris is a Sydney-based journalist for cricket.com.au. He is the host of The Unplayable Podcast and co-creator of the hit web series In Case You Played And Missed It.
While the Border-Gavaskar series didn't go Australia's way, their captain Steve Smith could have scarcely done more from his own bat, plundering three hundreds amid 499 runs in the series.
Smith, still just 27, is the youngest Australian to score 20 Test centuries.
Here we rate every single one, based primarily on their importance in the context of the match in which they were scored.
20. 134no v West Indies, Melbourne, 2015
As one of four Australians to reach triple-figures against the Windies in that summer's Boxing Day Test, Smith’s century was by far the most ruthless. Entering at No.4 with his side on top at 2-287, he put the visitors to the sword, striking at 76 as Australia powered to 3-551 declared.
19. 115 v England, Sydney, 2014
Before Australia could lay claim to another 5-0 Ashes whitewash, Smith first had to combine with long-time friend and mentor Brad Haddin to steer the hosts out of trouble. The pair combined for 128 as Smith registered his first Test ton on his home ground, the SCG.
18. 117 v India, Sydney, 2015
On an absolute road at the SCG, Smith scored his eighth Test century as Australia’s top six all passed 50 for the first time in history. Remarkably, it was his fourth century in as many matches against India that summer and he finished the series with 769 runs, the most ever by a batsman in a series of four or fewer Tests.
17. 165 v Pakistan, Melbourne, 2016
Smith’s third century from as many matches at the MCG set up a stunning victory late on day five. Having reached Test century No.17 by stumps on day four, Smith combined with Mitchell Starc for a rapid stand of 154-run stand to give Australia enough of a lead to bowl Pakistan out on the final evening.
16. 192 v India, Melbourne, 2014
Smith’s hot streak against India in 2014-15 went up a notch on Boxing Day. At stumps on day one he was 72 before raising his hundred the following morning. The next target was a maiden double-century but time was against him as the hosts looked to declare. He eventually fell eight runs short, bowled after missing an audacious ramp shot.
15. 130 v Pakistan, Brisbane, 2016
Having scored 15 centuries against a red ball, it was time for Smith to register one against its pink sibling. Red or pink, day or night, it doesn’t matter to the fidgety right-hander, who collected 19 boundaries at the Gabba to guide his side to a commanding first-innings total and ultimately set up a win.
14. 143 v England, The Oval, 2015
Prior to this innings, Smith’s four previous scores had been 7, 8, 6 and 5 as England regained the Ashes before the final Test in London. Given one chance to atone for his poor spell, Smith made it count with his second century at The Oval as Australia sent Michael Clarke and Chris Rogers out as winners.
13. 119 v Sri Lanka, Colombo (SSC), 2016
With the series already lost, the Australia captain had a point to prove in the third Test in Colombo. In concert with Shaun Marsh, Smith scored his first hundred in Asia against master left-arm spinner Rangana Herath. While Australia lost the series, the lessons learned in Sri Lanka would pay dividends nine months later.
12. 199 v West Indies, Kingston, 2015
Smith’s mettle was tested early when he walked out to face the fourth ball of the match. He was out 125 overs later just one miserly run short of his first double-ton. He’d looked certain to reach the milestone before a searing yorker from Jerome Taylor trapped him in front. A wonderful knock that again set up another Australian victory.
11. 138 v New Zealand, Perth, 2015
The one black spot on Smith’s glittering record was the absence of a second-innings century. That spot was erased when he struck 18 boundaries in his 138 at the WACA Ground to ensure the hosts would draw the match and keep the Trans-Tasman Trophy on Australian soil.
10. 138 v New Zealand, Christchurch, 2016
After watching Brendon McCullum blitz the fastest Test century in history, Smith and Joe Burns went about reeling in New Zealand’s 370. With the No.1 Test ranking on the line, nothing short of a century would suffice for the skipper. He spent nearly six hours at the crease and put on 289 with Burns for the third wicket to ensure that mantle of ‘world’s best’ would belong the men in the Baggy Green. To back it up, he personally saw Australia across the line with an unbeaten 53 in the second innings.
9. 111 v India, Dharamsala, 2017
His most recent hundred but one of his best, Smith’s knock at the foot of the Himalayas put him in rarefied air. His 20th Test ton was practically faultless (save his dismissal) and he got to the milestone in his 99th Test innings, the fourth fastest in history behind Sir Donald Bradman (55 innings), Sunil Gavaskar (93) and Matthew Hayden (95). The knock underlined his stature as Test cricket’s premier batsman.
8. 178no v India, Ranchi, 2017
Prior to the 2017 Border-Gavaskar Trophy series Smith preached to his batsmen to bat long, bat big and put together huge scores in India. Like any great leader, Smith led by example. On a slow, low deck in Ranchi, Smith batted for eight-and-a-half hours without offering a chance. His innings was the backbone of Australia’s 451 and he was destined for another double century if only he didn’t run out of partners.
7. 133 v India, Brisbane, 2014
There’s no bigger honour in Australian sport than captaining the Australian Test cricket team. On December 17, 2014, Smith was given that privilege after Michael Clarke succumbed to a hamstring injury in the preceding Test in Adelaide. Wearing the captain’s blazer handed to him by former skipper Mark Taylor, Smith lost the toss but that would be his only false step during his first five days in charge. He had to wait until the afternoon of day two to do what he does best and by lunch the following morning he had become just the ninth Australian to score a century on Test captaincy debut. Since then he’s posted 11 more hundreds as skipper in just 23 matches.
6. 138no v England, The Oval, 2013
Smith had gone close to scoring his maiden Test century in 2013 before he finally got the monkey off his back at The Oval. In Mohali that March he made 92, while in June at Manchester two matches earlier he was cruising but got bogged down and played a rash stroke to fall for 89. But he would not be denied in in the final match of the Ashes that winter, reaching three figures for the first time in his 12th Test. Legend has it Brad Haddin, at the non-striker’s end, told Smith on 94 to just hit a six. The youngster obliged, launching Jonathan Trott straight down the ground for century-making maximum.
5. 109 v India, Pune, 2017
It wasn’t his prettiest, it wasn’t his most fluid and it wasn’t faultless, but by gum it was one of his toughest, most important and best centuries. Smith’s 109 was worth 250 on the Pune pitch that spun at right angles from the first ball. No other player in the match got close to three figures as Smith put his stamp on the series with a second-innings ton that the captain himself rated as one of his finest. Against an Indian attack that featured the world’s top two Test spinners, Smith used his feet, played patiently and remained unfazed if the ball beat his outside edge. The century set up Australia first win in India in 13 years and was the first of three tons in the series, a feat never before achieved by an Australia captain in India.
4. 100 v South Africa, Centurion, 2014
On a spicy pitch with pace and bounce, against a South Africa attack including champions Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander, Smith assembled an innings of pure class. Australia were in strife at 4-98 when Smith joined Shaun Marsh at the crease just after lunch on day one. Together they added 233 for the fifth wicket with Smith making an even 100 of the highest order. He hit only one boundary in his first 50 balls as he cautiously negotiated the Proteas' diverse bowling unit. As Smith’s century neared, South Africa skipper Graeme Smith called upon his supreme quick Steyn but the Australian was up to the task, weathering the storm before posting Test ton No.4. His innings lifted the visitors to a match-winning first-innings total of 397 before Mitchell Johnson ran riot.
3. 111 v England, Perth, 2013
Having failed in Brisbane and Adelaide to start the 2013-14 Ashes, Smith’s spot in the side was far from secure. At that point the 24-year-old needed an innings of substance, a century, to silence the doubters who relentlessly pointed at his quirky technique as being unsuitable for Test match cricket. But in Perth on that December day in 2013, Smith produced one of his most important performances to steer his side out of trouble and cement his position for the foreseeable future. He took on gallant England new-ball pair James Anderson and Stuart Broad and won, sent off-spinner Graeme Swann into the stands twice and was ruthless against allrounder Ben Stokes. Reflecting on the innings years later, Smith said it’s the one that made him believe he was good enough to compete at the highest level; a level he now dominates like few have before him.
2. 162no v India, Adelaide, 2014
Heavy hearts took the field in the wake of Phillip Hughes’s death for the first Test of the 2014-15 summer. David Warner blasted a sparkling century, Michael Clarke batted on one leg to score what would be his final Test hundred and Smith raised the bat to the heavens before pointing the Hughes’s Test number, 408, that had been painted at midwicket when he reached triple-figures. It can’t be emphasised enough the mental battle the players from both Australia and India had to endure during that match, which makes an innings like Smith’s even more impressive.
1. 215 v England, Lords, 2015
Despite entering the 2015 Ashes ranked as the world’s No.1 Test batsman there remained questions, predominantly in the English media, whether Smith was genuinely the best bat on the planet. After scoring 33 in each innings in the first Test loss in Cardiff, Smith was under the spotlight at the Home of Cricket for the second Test, where he shined bigger and brighter than he ever had before. Walking out to bat after David Warner and Chris Rogers put on 78 for the first wicket, the No.3 went about his work straight away, getting off the mark from the first ball he faced before collecting a boundary four balls later. A half-century came from 110 balls followed and he was handed a life when dropped by Ian Bell at second slip shortly after the milestone. He made the most of it, scoring his next 50 runs in as many balls to have his name emgraved on the Lord’s honour board. But he wasn’t done there. Smith powered to his maiden Test double-century, only the third at Lord’s by an Australian and the first in 77 years. His 215, like 13 of his hundreds, contributed to a win and against Australia’s fiercest rivals to boot.