In the last few years, cricket lovers around the world have been treated to four wonderful batsmen, each with a claim to be the best in the business.
So when the Ashes came around this year, the battle between Root and Smith was primed to be an intriguing one.
With the first innings of the fourth Test now almost complete, one of them has gone on to reach new heights.
The Australian skipper is the leading run-scorer in the series by a country mile with 502 runs on the back of a superb double-ton and a century, both innings being match-winning ones.
In contrast, his opposite number has been only the fourth best English batsmen Down Under, behind the likes of Alastair Cook, Dawid Malan and Jonny Bairstow.
The most notable difference between the two has been Smith’s propensity to go big every time he gets his eye in while Root has struggled to convert his starts and half-centuries into something more noteworthy.
While Smith’s success has lifted his side to a dream Australian summer during which they toppled the tourists to regain the Ashes, Root’s failure to go big has cost England.
Three times the 26-year-old Yorkshire batsman has crossed 50 in this series. He has failed to convert a single one of them into a century. His record in the series would be deemed decent for an average batsmen but more is expected of Root and he will always be held to higher standards.
In previous years, his conversion rate from half-centuries to hundreds hovered around the late 30s or early 40s percentile.
In the last two years though, that rate has dropped, and after his latest failure on Wednesday, it stands at 27%, the lowest among the fab four. It is in fact Kohli who leads the way with 57% of his fifties converted to centuries while Smith and Williamson follow at 50% and 39% respectively.
Root has 13 Tests tons and 35 fifties to his credit so far, in contrast to Smith who has 22 hundreds and 21 half-centuries. For context, in the last nine times that both batsmen have crossed 50, Root has completed a century only once while Smith who has done so a staggering six times.
It would be monumental failure for the England skipper not to reach the 100-run mark even once in the Ashes series. He has now only three innings left to achieve that feat Down Under.
The Englishman might very well start banging in the big ones when summer arrives in England but for now, his reputation as one of the leading batsmen in world cricket is taking a beating while others around him continue to pull ahead.
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