When Bjorn Borg dominated world tennis from the mid 70s to the early 80s winning five Wimbledon titles and six French Open titles his opponents in exasperation were heard saying ''we play tennis; he plays something else.’’ Players opposing Steve Smith on the cricket field these days could well be saying the same thing for the batting form being displayed by the Australian captain is of the kind that has not been seen since the days of Don Bradman.

This is borne out by one single statistic – his career average is second to that of the greatest batsman in history. And the figures associated with the records he has been setting are of the mind boggling and eye rubbing kind.

But of course Smith’s batting is more than just facts and figures. If he has taken the art and craft of batsmanship to a sublime level it revolves around a terrific combination of talent, technique and temperament. And to think that he started out as a leg spinning all rounder who could bowl a bit and bat a bit.

In fact at the time the focus was more on his bowling but Smith was quick to realize that he would never make the grade as a leg spinner and decided to concentrate on his batting. What a wise decision it has turned out to be for Australian cricket!

The 28-year-old Smith is your typical gutsy hard as nails Aussie cricketer despite a seemingly pleasant demeanor. He is mentally very strong and given his insatiable appetite for runs and his hunger to succeed he is a very difficult batsman to bowl to let alone dislodge. He is as Jonathan Liew observed recently ''the ultimate cricket tragic with a devotion to the game that verges on obsession.’’ Indeed so focused is Smith that he appears to wear blinkers while at the crease.

Smith does not want to just win; he wants to dominate. He is driven by ambition to be the best of his generation, the best of all time. Centuries are not enough for him; he wants to make them a double. To be candid if Smith ends his Test career without a triple hundred he will have sold himself short. And most impressive of all he has got big scores all over the cricketing world. Even the very great players might have an Achilles Heel and not be successful in a certain region or against certain opponents. Smith has got three figure scores against almost every opposition and in almost every country he has played in.

The qualities associated with Smith’s batting can best be summed up in his two hundreds notched up at Brisbane and Perth. In the first Test he came in when Australia were 30 for two in reply to England’s first innings total of 302. He carefully nursed the innings taking his time to get the runs and finally saw his team finish 26 runs ahead he himself remaining unconquered on 141.

He took 261 balls to get his hundred. At Perth he raced to his hundred off just 138 balls after coming in when Australia were 55 for two in reply to England’s 403. His dominance while getting 239 allied to his fifth wicket partnership of 301 runs with Mitch Marsh knocked England out of the match and despite topping the 400 run mark in the first innings they ended up losing by an innings.

Such was the difference in approach that the two innings might have been played by different batsmen. But then that’s Smith all over and underlined his optimal response to the conditions, the match situation and the attack. And inspired no doubt by their captain Australia are playing their cricket the best way they know how –a tough, no nonsense approach that has seen them regain the Ashes with three straight emphatic victories.

While Smith has been the dominant figure in the series both as batsman and captain the others have rallied around him magnificently. England have had their moments but they have not been able to sustain the momentum. Just as the match seems evenly poised Australia have wrested the initiative never to let it fall from their grasp.

This is true professional cricket at its best and even those who might dislike the Aussie penchant for sledging needlessly at every opportunity cannot help but admire the manner in which they play their cricket. And the way things are going Smith could well be presiding over a golden run for this team. The first step towards this will undoubtedly be completing a clean sweep in the Ashes series and there will be few who will bet against that happening.