Ed Hawkins says the emergence of the No 3 as a force makes the tops batsman market harder to call ahead of game two in Port Elizabeth...
"If Smith continues at this rate - and having made the No 3 position his own - he could prove to be an exception to the rule of requiring big study periods"
At the end of last year Steve Smith had to prove that he was worth a place in Australia's T20 side. He had a disappointing Indian Premier League in 2019, striking at only 116, and he seemed to be a big part of a problem Aussie batting line-up which was not destructive enough.
Scrap all that. Smith, the original Renaissance man, has proved he can do it all. In the same way the he fashioned himself into the world's best batsman from an ugly legspinning all-rounder, he now looks to be one of the most dangerous T20 batters.
Since the end of that IPL, Smith has batted four times for Australia. His strike rates in each of them have all been more than 140. He has top scored in two of them. Previously he had topped only three times in his international career.
Sportsbook rate him at 7/2 for back-to-back wins. As you would expect, there is no long-term evidence that he is value. But if he continues at this rate - and having made the No 3 position his own - he could prove to be an exception to the rule of requiring big study periods.
With Glenn Maxwell missing because of elbow surgery, Smith had to step up. It appears he has done so and from starting the World Cup year with doubts about their middle-order, the Aussies could have an embarrassment of riches when the Big Show returns.
Top bat bets are tricky for this one. We'd like to consider Quinton de Kock and David Warner for honours but Sportsbook have cut both openers' odds (23/10 to 9/4 and 12/5 to 11/4 respectively) despite failures last time. It's a struggle to get on board with such price moves.
For the Jo'burg contest we were on Warner for more than 25 runs. Dale Steyn got him for just four. Frustrating. That downed a wager which had won 20 out of 28 times previously. He's cut to 4/5 on the quote this time.
A price we do like about Warner is the runs quite for more than 33.5 at 5/4. This has won 57% of the time since the beginning of the 2018 Caribbean Premier League.
We will also keep faith with our view oin the sices match bet. South Africa are underrated significantly having drifted to 13/10. Australia are 5/6 jollies and on last three years, two years and home v away data there is no evidence the gulf should be that big, if at all.
Australia last two-years to bat wins/matches
M Marsh t/3
Smith 5/37 (career)
SA last two years top bowler wins/matches
Phehlukwayo 3 2t/18
Rabada 1 t/6
Steyn 0 t/5
Ngidi 3 2t/8
Dala 3 t/9
Hendricks 1 t/6
SA last two years top bat wins/matches
De Kock 4/11
Du Plessis 3/6
R Hendricks 2/13
Van Der Dussen 1/13