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The Spin | Steve Smith and the unbridled joy of taking catches in Test cricket
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The Spin | Steve Smith and the unbridled joy of taking catches in Test cricket

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The exact term used is unclear, as it is difficult to hear over the noise of the stump microphone and the increasing commentary. Is it “Clanger”? That seems unlikely. The word has a different meaning than what is being described here. Could it be “Banger”? Perhaps, but that doesn’t seem quite right either. In reality, any of the many words used to depict an impressive catch would fit. It was a remarkable catch. However, it wouldn’t hurt to double check, play the replay, and take another look.

Travis Head, with his impressive walrus-like moustache, approaches the crease to bowl an off-break to the Kiwi opener, Will Young, during the third afternoon at the Basin Reserve in Wellington. Young makes a tentative push forward to the ball which travels straight without any spin or bounce. The ball takes the edge of the bat and gains momentum as it heads towards the right of wicketkeeper Alex Carey and the left side of slip fielder Steve Smith. Despite being a left-hander and supposedly weaker on that side, Smith is known for his exceptional ability to catch from any angle.

Smith extends his hand and snatches the ball while airborne. The combination of poise, dexterity, and lightning reflexes is spellbinding. The rapid motion of white against green, accented with a touch of red, is a blur. With sharp vision, Smith transforms from a motionless stance to an animated figure, resembling an Inuit fisherman impaling an Arctic cod from the freezing depths. The Inuits employ a ‘kavivak’, a three-pronged tool, but Smith manages with just four fingers and a thumb. Almost inexplicably, the ball now rests calmly in Smith’s hand. His teammates cheer and leap in celebration. Smith chuckles and toddles over to them in his unique style. Embracing their high fives and praise, he knows this was a great move, having executed enough of them to have complete confidence.

nd Book

This marks the publication of Steve Smith’s 182nd book.nd
He has surpassed Mark Waugh of Australia and is now in sixth place on the all-time list for catches in Test cricket. Waugh was known for his slip catching ability but Smith, along with Ricky Ponting, who currently ranks fourth with 196 catches from 168 Tests, are both exceptional fielders who can make incredible catches from any position on the field. Their adaptability brings to mind John Lennon’s famous quote, “Give me a tuba and I will play you a proper tune.”

Ponting would snarl, gnaw on his gum as if it had personally wronged him, and spit into his palms right in front of the batter’s view from short leg or silly mid-off. In his earlier days, Smith also wore a helmet and spent time at “boot hill”. Both men have accomplished the impossible all across the field, whether it be catching swirling high balls in the deep, fielding razor-sharp drives in the covers, or making full-blooded cuts at backward point. They flung themselves in all directions as pace bowlers stormed in, and lived on the edge of their reflexes while fielding close to the spinners.

Smith’s highlights reel is a barely believable display of catching. His signature sinew-stretching starfish dives at full bodily extension are a sight to behold, there’s even a contradictive jaw-dropping inevitability in watching him cling on to any number of flying red, white or pink objects as if he has a Velcro mitt.

Smith is also very skilled at catching. If he keeps up his current pace, he could be considered one of the best catchers in the game. If he catches 33 more balls in Test cricket, he will surpass Rahul Dravid as the player with the most catches. Dravid has caught 210 balls in 164 Test matches, while Smith has played 108. Smith currently averages 0.887 catches per innings, which means he will likely surpass Dravid in less than 20 Test matches.

Catching is a source of great pleasure in the game, and perhaps even in life itself. The act of catching something in the air and holding it securely in your hands is incredibly satisfying for humans. Regardless of whether someone is a cricketer or not, most individuals can understand and relate to this feeling. Perhaps you remember the time when you caught a clementine thrown at you by your sister-in-law with a bit too much force last Christmas? It was such an exhilarating experience. Let’s make sure to handle this task with care, ensuring that no debris from the fruit comes into contact with the carpet. From my perspective, everything looks clean and my fingers are clearly underneath. However, Grandma, if you prefer to stick with your original decision, please put down the sherry. You are now on camera.

Steve Smith celebrates with teammates after taking a catch to dismiss New Zealand’s Will Young, his 182nd in Test cricket.View image in fullscreen

An individual who tosses car keys onto a hood and flings a pair of socks down a hallway, you must have experienced it. That sensation. Young ones also feel it. Have you ever witnessed a little child gripping onto a beanbag or, more likely, a partially consumed piece of jammy bread by chance? Their eyes light up with amazement as they look down at their hands in amazement and delight.

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Certain cricket players describe the thrilling moments after taking a catch where only they are aware of the action. For a brief moment, before everyone else notices, it is just the player and the ball, a joyful confidence shared in a sacred in-between.

We enjoy catching, observing, and discussing catches. A missed catch can bring an overwhelming feeling of despair, while a successful catch can evoke strong emotions like few other things can.

Source: theguardian.com