England's Ben Stokes doffs hat to 'strange genius' Steve Smith
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NEW DELHI - England all-rounder Ben Stokes considers Steve Smith a "genius" but does not think the Australian's intense batting approach will work for him.
Smith has admitted to shadow-practising even in the shower and Australia's batting mainstay often needs to be told by the team management to go easy in net sessions to prevent burnout.
Having shared the Rajasthan Royals dressing room in the Indian Premier League (IPL) with Smith, Stokes has observed how Smith approaches his craft and is impressed as well as amused.
"He's still strange to play against and he's still strange to play with, and the best thing about it is that he admits it," Stokes said in a video chat for his IPL franchise.
"But I feel to be a genius you have to be a bit strange and you know he's certainly both."
A prolific Smith, who averages 62.8 in Test cricket, helped Australia retain the Ashes last year, confirming his stature as one of the premier batsmen of his era.
"Even though he plays for Australia ... you've just got to hold your hands up sometimes to players like that and go 'yeah you're on a different level when it comes to batting'," said the explosive all-rounder.
Stokes himself played some memorable knocks last year, including in the final of the World Cup and the Headingley Test against Australia, but does not think he could be as obsessed with batting as Smith.
"I could never be like that, personally, I could not think about cricket in the way that he does when it comes to batting," said the 28-year-old.
"You know obviously he's on all the time, but that's why he averages 60 whatever he does in Test cricket ..."