Steve Smith has lost and then found his hands more than once and that discovery has often been the fuel for run-scoring sprees that have elevated him above so many of his peers.
Now, after a 12-month process to get his hands and feet “in sync”, the Australian batting star produced an innings he labelled “close to perfection” in Adelaide on Thursday night in an ominous warning to the West Indies and South Africa ahead of a five-Test home summer.
Smith steered Australia to a cruisy win over world champions England, carving out a sublime unbeaten 80 after which he said he felt better at the crease than he had “for six years”.
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Steve Smith’s changed stance on display | 00:44
During that period there have been some massive hauls, not the least of which was is monstrous 774 runs during the 2019 Ashes in England, coming after a year out of the game.
Smith even scored a one-day hundred against New Zealand in Cairns in September before playing just one game in the T20 World Cup.
But the 33-year-old declared Thursday’s innings was “much better” than that century against the Kiwis and said he couldn‘t be more excited about what he could do for the rest of the summer given how good he felt.
“It was probably the best I have felt at the crease in about six years, so happy with that,” Smith said on Friday morning.
“I’ve been spending the last couple of weeks, a lot of time in the nets just trying to get my hands and feet in sync together, that’s been the biggest challenge.
“I’ve been able to do one and not the other and even in a game when you are under pressure you go back to default sometimes, but yesterday was the most stable I have felt in terms of both together.
“We are always looking for perfection and for me yesterday was probably as close to perfection as I’ll get.”
Smith went into detail on the work he’d been doing since last summer to rediscover his happy pace while batting, work that is starting to reap the dividends he hopes will flow.
“At the start of last summer I tried to get my hands back to where they were in like 2015,” he said.
“I feel like I’ve been getting my grip more round and round and closing myself off, so last summer I felt like I had my grip right but it wasn’t aligning with my feet, I was still getting a bit too much front on.
“I feel like I am playing side on and have my feet and hands in sync.
“Yesterday was probably the first time I’ve actually had an extended time in the middle with that change.
“I feel like I had a lot of time. I felt in a nice place defensively and when I wanted to get my weight through the ball and play some shots.”
Smith said he felt so good he could “play the ball and it would go where I wanted it to”, having spent recent times wrestling with his own body to make things happen.
It’s put his batting back in the perfect place to maul the Windies and Proteas this summer.
“The way my hands were, I was still able to hit the ball in different positions but I had to manipulate my body and work a bit harder to get the ball there,” he said.
“Yesterday I felt in sync and I could play the ball and it would go where I wanted it to. That’s the biggest difference.
“It was only one innings, but just the way I felt, I felt in control, I had a lot of time on my hands. I could have played a couple of different shots to a few balls and I haven’t felt that way in a little while. It’s nice to be in that frame of mind. I’m excited to get back out there in a couple of days and do it again.
“I’m pleased with how it’s going an hopefully it’s the start of a good summer.”
Australia’s second ODI against England starts at 2.20pm from the SCG.