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Langer rates Smith at par with Virat

 BIRMINGHAM, Aug 6: Australia coach Justin Langer feels Steve Smith is at par with Indian captain Virat Kohli as the world’s best batsman after the comeback-man struck consecutive hundreds in the opening Ashes Test against England.

Langer said it’s credit to Smith that he began his career as a spinner and later transformed into the best batsman in the world.

“Let’s face it; when he (Smith) first came in, leg-spinner, unorthodox... (everyone thought) ‘I’m not sure this kid’s going to make it’. Then he goes away (and decides) ‘I don’t want to be a leg-spinner; I want to be the best batsman in the world’.

“Then he transforms himself and he is the best batsman in the world with Virat. It’s a great credit to him,” Langer said.

“I said during the summer that Virat Kohli is the best player I have ever seen but that (Smith’s knocks) is just another level,” the coach said.

Kohli currently leads the ICC Test rankings, while Smith has moved up to third with his latest performance.

Returning to international cricket after serving one-year ban for the infamous ball-tampering episode in South Africa, Smith struck twin centuries – 144 in first innings and 142 in second – to help his side register a thumping 251-run win against England on Monday.

Langer said Smith’s knocks at Edgbaston showed his mental toughness and traits of a great player.

“You have in different teams, different eras, great players but for someone like Smudge (Smith), who is averaging over 60 and the way he played in this innings with all the pressure and everything that is on him, it was not only great skill but enormous character, enormous courage, very brave, unbelievable concentration, unbelievable physical stamina, unbelievable mental stamina, all traits of great players,” he said. – PTI

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