Smith at par with Virat as world’s best batsman: Justin Langer

Vastavam web: Australia coach Justin Langer feels Steve Smith is at par with Indian captain Virat Kohli as the world’s best batsman after the comeback-man struck consecutive hundreds in the opening Ashes Test against England.Langer said it’s credit to Smith that he began his career as a spinner and later transformed into the best batsman in the world.

“Let’s face it; when he (Smith) first came in, leg-spinner, unorthodox… (everyone thought) ‘I’m not sure this kid’s going to make it’. Then he goes away (and decides) ‘I don’t want to be a leg-spinner; I want to be the best batsman in the world’. “Then he transforms himself and he is the best batsman in the world with Virat. It’s a great credit to him,” Langer said.

“I said during the summer that Virat Kohli is the best player I have ever seen but that (Smith’s knocks) is just another level,” the coach said. Langer said Smith’s knocks at Edgbaston showed his mental toughness and traits of a great player.

“You have in different teams, different eras, great players but for someone like Smudge (Smith), who is averaging over 60 and the way he played in this innings with all the pressure and everything that is on him, it was not only great skill but enormous character, enormous courage, very brave, unbelievable concentration, unbelievable physical stamina, unbelievable mental stamina, all traits of great players,” he said.

The former left-handed opener termed Smith a problem-solver of his team, someone who just loves batting for long hours. “You throw to him in the nets and you literally feel like you can’t get him out and there’s no batsman like that and you just end up throwing a million balls and you are just lost for answers,” Langer said.

“I guess you would have to ask England how they feel about that and they had some interesting tactics for him. They had the really short point which I had never seen before, they obviously had a tactic they prepared and “Trevor Bayliss has seen a lot of Steve Smith since he was a kid. They would have studied him closely but he just has a knack, well, he is the best problem-solver in the game,” he added.