Latest ICC rankings put Smith in elite company
STEVE Smith ended the toughest tour in international cricket with the fifth highest rating in Test history, while inclement New Zealand weather has robbed the Australians of $US300,000.
Those were the major talking points from the release of the ICC's rankings on Thursday following the recently completed Test series in India and New Zealand.
Smith maintained his extraordinary rating of 941 after his gutsy century in Dharamsala. That placed him a single point behind the career-high marks of Jack Hobbs in 1912 and Ricky Ponting in 2006, three short of Len Hutton in 1954 and 20 adrift of the never-to-be-matched career-high of 961 set by Don Bradman in 1948.
"He's been brilliant. He's been unbelievable. He's been Bradman-like with the bat but all the stuff behind the scenes has been exceptional," coach Darren Lehmann said of Smith after the fourth Test.
"I'm really pleased for him and what he's brought to the team as a leader. The way they've gone about it has been impressive."
Smith, who scored 111 and 18 in the heartbreaking defeat in Dharamsala, finished the series with 499 runs at 71.28 and became the first Australian batsman in history to score three Test centuries on a single tour of India.
In 54 Tests and 100 innings, Smith has scored 5251 runs at an average of 61.05 and a strike rate of 56.9. He has 20 half-centuries and 20 centuries, giving him a remarkable conversion rate of 20% for centuries to each innings.
That stacks up favourably against the best in history, with the likes of Sachin Tendulkar (15.5%), Ponting (14.29%), Brian Lara (14.66%) and Jacques Kallis (16.07%) all failing to convert their big scores in the same way Smith has.
Bradman, of course, is out in front with a conversion rate of 36.25% having hit 29 tons in 80 innings.
Naturally, Smith remains the undisputed No.1 Test batsman in the world and holds an extraordinary 61-point lead over the next best current batsman - New Zealan's Kane Williamson on 880.
The highest rating a player can receive is 1000.
The ratings are based on a complex statistical breakdown that factors in not just the runs scored but also the quality of attack, the level of run-scoring in each match (centuries in low-scoring matches are viewed more favourably than run feasts on absolute roads) and even whether they were match-winning knocks.
Meanwhile, South Africa edged out Australia by a single ratings point to claim second place and a $US500,000 cheque at the April 1 deadline.
Australia looked set to finish the period in second place with South Africa reeling at 5-80 in the second innings in the third and final Test against New Zealand, still trailing the Black Caps' first innings total by 95 runs.
But heavy rain in Hamilton ensured the Proteas escaped with a draw and relegated Australia to third place and a cheque of $US200,000.
India finished the period in first place and collected a $US1 million prize.
In other ratings news, Josh Hazlewood remained the No.-1-ranked fast bowler in Test cricket, while Ravindra Jadeja finished top among all bowlers.