The biggest debate in international cricket at the moment is about Indian skipper Virat Kohli and Australian batsman Steve Smith. The only question everyone is asking, who is the best Test batsman? If ICC Test rankings are to be believed, it is the Australian cricketer who is at top right now. Smith is No.1 ranked Test batsman in the world, the position he reclaimed from Virat Kohli after making his comeback in the longest format of the game.
Smith was banned from playing international cricket for a year after he was found guilty of tampering with the ball. Smith along with teammates David Warner and Cameron Bancroft tampered with the ball during a Test series against South Africa in March 2018. Smith served his period of ban playing domestic cricket and franchise-based cricket. But when the 30-year old returned in the international arena he made sure everyone knew that he is back.
After returning from the ban, Smith played his first Test series against The Lions in England. In the five-match Ashes series, Smith scored a mammoth 774 runs from just seven innings at an average of 110.57. His series scorecard included three centuries and three half-centuries to help Australia win the urn in England for the first time after 2001.
On the other hand, India’s Virat Kohli had a below-average series against West Indies. Virat Kohli scored 136 runs from four innings at an average of 34.00. But just one bad series doesn’t sum up the brilliance of Virat Kohli. Kohli has played 79 Test matches for India, where he batted in 135 innings and amassed 6,749 runs at an average of 53.14. Kohli has 25 Test centuries under his name, while Smith has 26. In this department, Smith is one better than Kohli.
Scoring centuries in ODI cricket is considered a big milestone, but in Test cricket scoring double-centuries and triple-centuries are achieved only by the best. Test cricket is a game of patience and scoring runs is not a cakewalk. Virat Kohli has scored 6 double-hundreds in the format, while Smith has three to his name. So, Kohli is ahead of Smith in this department of the game.
Smith has played 67 Test matches and batted in 122 innings, scoring 6,870 runs at an average of 64.81. The former Australian skipper has scored 1200 runs from 13 matches and averages 48 batting in sub-continent conditions as the pitches in Asia support spinners, unlike the Australian pitches that support pacers. Virat, on the other hand, has scored 3,236 runs from 36 Test matches he played outside Asia. Kohli’s average batting outside Asia is 47.24. Smith once again bettered Kohli’s record.
Both the batsmen are almost similar in Test cricket and comparing the two modern greats will be unfair to the game of cricket. Looking at the statistics here, Smith emerges to be a better batsman, but King Kohli is no less. The eight-year-long fight for the position of world’s best Test batsman is currently in favour of Steven Smith but Virat Kohli will leave no stone unturned to reclaim the glory.