When Steven Smith threaded another cover-drive for four to get to 112 at the WACA, he reached 1000 Test runs in a calendar year for the fourth successive year, a feat previously achieved only by Matthew Hayden. Hayden went past 1000 runs in five consecutive years from 2001 to 2005, but even he will agree that Smith's run from 2014 has been truly exceptional.
In each of these four years, Smith has scored 1000-plus runs at 60-plus averages, which makes him the first player to achieve this feat. Hayden averaged more than 60 in the first three years of his five-year streak, but in 2004 his average dropped to 43.19. Brian Lara and Kevin Pietersen are the only others to score 1000-plus runs at 50-plus averages in three successive years.
Since the start of 2014, Smith has scored 4826 runs at an average of 74.24, including 20 hundreds. These stats are among the best by any batsman over a four-year period. In terms of runs scored in four successive calendar years, Smith is in fourth place, behind Ricky Ponting and a pair of streaks by Hayden during his best years. Smith has a maximum of three more innings to go in 2017, which means he might climb even higher up the list.
In terms of averages in a four-year period, Smith currently averages 74.24, which is the best. Ponting averaged 72.52 in the 2003-06 period, while Kumar Sangakkara averaged 72.27 between 2007 and 2010. Steve Waugh and Jacques Kallis are the others in the top five.
And in terms of Test centuries, no batsman has scored more than Smith's 20 in a four-year period; Hayden and Ponting have 19 in four-year periods. Smith has already reached 22 Test centuries in his career in just 108 innings, which is third-fastest of all time, next only to Don Bradman (58 innings), and Sunil Gavaskar (101). Sachin Tendulkar got there in 114.
Smith's average of 74.24 since the start of 2014 is the best by any batsman during this period, even with a 300-run cut-off. (There are 132 batsmen who qualify with this cut-off.) With a higher cut-off of 2000 runs, the top four are the four most talked-about batsmen today. Even among them, though, Steven Smith is on another level.
With inputs from Shiva Jayaraman