ASHES 2015

The genesis of Smith's trigger movement

04 December 2015
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Australian captain discusses spontaneous introduction of trademark 'back and across' movement into his game

About the Writer:

Martin Smith is a writer for He previously wrote for Yahoo!7 Sport and Fox Sports.

Back and across. Back and across. Back and across.

It's impossible to know how many times Steve Smith has performed this movement over the past two or so years.

Thousands and thousands of times out in the middle, countless more in the nets and probably even a few times in his sleep as well. Certainly his batting in recent years has been the stuff that dreams are made of.

While far from the only player to employ a trigger movement at the crease, the Australian skipper's pronounced shift across his stumps at the moment the ball is released has become his trademark.

And the genesis of this signature move, which has propelled him to the Australian captaincy and the top of the world batting rankings, is quite remarkable.

It's not a force of habit, engrained in his muscle memory from more than a decade of batting. It wasn't tried and tried again in the nets first. It just happened.

And it happened in one of the more intense environments imaginable for a young Australian batsman; it was December 2013, in the middle of an Ashes Test with a significant dose of self-doubt swirling in his mind.

Smith celebrates his famous century against England in Perth // Getty

"I hadn't performed all that well in the first two Test matches at the Gabba and Adelaide," Smith told of his thoughts heading into the third Test of the 2013-14 Ashes series in Perth.

"And I remember sitting down and talking to Chris Rogers actually; I was a bit nervous about my place in the team, I didn’t feel quite like I belonged yet and then I got out in that Test match and scored a hundred.

"I think I remember it most for I actually changed the way I played in that game.

"I started a prelim movement that I've had ever since - back and across - and I started it when I was on about 10 I think in that innings, just after lunch.

"I went to lunch on about 10 and I came out after lunch they were bowling quite short at me. And I started a back and across movement and got a few away and felt really good and scored a hundred.

"So I've been doing that prelim movement ever since, so it was the start of something new."

Something new and something quite special.

Highlights of Steve Smith's first Test ton in Australia

Since that 111 in Perth - his first Test ton on Australian soil - Smith has averaged more than 70 in Test cricket from 21 matches, including 10 centuries and eight fifties.

He's added at least one century in every Australian city he's played in - he'll play his first Test in Hobart next week - and also raised his bat in Centurion and Kingston, central London and further south.

His incredible Indian summer 12 months ago - he was in such impeccable form that he remarked to girlfriend Dani Willis: 'I don't think they're going to get me out this summer' - propelled him to the mantle of the world's best Test batsman, a title he currently shares with England's Joe Root. 

From doubting his place in the Australian side two years ago, Smith is now his team's best player, its captain and its rock.

And the trigger movement that's helped to carry him there started when England's bowlers, who had enjoyed great success bowling a full length in the seven Ashes Tests that preceded the trip to the WACA, adopted a change of tack.

"I hadn't practiced (the prelim movement) at all. It was just they were bowling quite short at me and I was trying to get myself in a position to get out of the way, and if it wasn't too short to play a pull shot," he says.

"And I remember I got a lot of pull shots away in that game for boundaries (six in total) and everything just felt really good with the prelim movement, so I just continued on doing it and I've been doing it ever since."

Smith pulls against England in Perth in 2013 // Getty

The rest, as they say, is history.

"It was an amazing Test match really, to be three-nil up at the end of that Test match and win the Ashes," he says.

"Another huge highlight in my career so far. Probably after the World Cup, that’s probably the number two or equal with it even.

"But look, to have gotten a hundred in that Test match and sort of nail down a spot in the middle order was pretty special to me.

"And to back it up two matches later (in Sydney) with another hundred, I think that gave me a lot of confidence going into the rest of the cricket that year."

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