Steve Smith followed up hundreds of consecutive BBLs for the Sydney Sixers with his all-time fastest T20 50 in Hobart on Monday night.
Having played just four games, the Australian batting star is easily his team’s leading points scorer, with 328 points at an average of 105.
Smith also hit a team-high 24 sixes in those four driving outings, nearly four times the next best effort, which belongs to James Vince who broke the limit seven times during his short stint.
It’s the stick that elevated Smith into the national T20 conversation after watching most of the unsuccessful World Cup defenses last November from the bench.
Taking retired captain Aaron Finch’s place at the top of the order when Australia play their next T20 international in August now looks like the go-to decision for national team boss George Bailey.
The open is where Smith says he feels most free to hit the ball in “unique” spots on the pitch that most hitters can’t reach.
However, Smith isn’t strutting around the Big Bash trying to make a statement about his World Cup omission, or even whether he should replace Finch.
He’s just having fun.
“I just like playing right now, I like beating the top, it was a lot of fun,” Smith said after hitting 66-for-33 as the Sydney Sixers beat the Hobart Hurricanes on Monday night.
“I don’t think we have T20 internationals for a while, we’ll wait and see where things land, but it’s been great fun so far.”
Smith’s entry into the BBL this season came after talks with Cricket Australia for a side deal, many felt he was due after he was denied the chance to play at the end of last season in due to bureaucracy.
The value of his presence has been eye-opening not just for his team but for the tournament as well, with crowds as fans flocking to witness a superstar at the height of his powers.
His first century for the Sixers was first in T20 cricket since 2017, and his gathering of runs would suggest he has never beaten better.
But is it the best he has hit in the shortest form of the game?
“I’m not sure. It’s a different role to be at the top, it’s a completely different place, but it’s a place that suits me, I think,” he said.
“I think I hit unique parts of the field when there are two outs, I’m able to get in there, and then once the outfielders come out I want to score so I can keep paying.
“Most players like to hit the top and I had that opportunity and it was a lot of fun.”
Smith enjoying what he does best bodes ominously for Saturday’s final qualifying showdown with Perth Scorchers, his last game before heading to India.
He also said the back spasms that plagued his previous runs were on the mend, and he could be freed up even more to go crazy in Perth.
“Before the last game I was quite sore, then today I was feeling a bit better…fingers crossed it’s getting better and better,” he said.
“It was just some disc issues and everything should be fine.
“I feel really good. It was great fun beating the top, the freedom to just get out there and play.
“Just having the ability to play at the top and play the way I want to play and build the team… I enjoyed it.”