New Delhi, Aug 6: Australia coach Justin Langer has ranked Steve Smith above Virat Kohli as a better batsman after the top-order batsman slammed match-winning twin centuries in the Edgbaston Test against England.
Smith made brilliant contributions with the bat to Australia's first-Test humbling of England after he made his comeback following the ball-tampering ban. Smith hit 144 and 142 as Australia beat England by 251 runs at Edgbaston to win the opening game of the five-match Ashes series.
Talking to reporters Langer said, "I said during the summer that Virat Kohli is the best player I have ever seen but that (Smith's centuries) is just another level."
Langer said Smith had shown "enormous character, enormous courage, ... unbelievable concentration, unbelievable physical stamina, unbelievable mental stamina, all traits of great players".
The former Australia opener said the 30-year-old always seemed to have the answers.
"You throw to him in the nets and you literally feel like you can't get him out and there's no batsman like that and you just end up throwing a million balls and you are just lost for answers," Langer said.
"I guess you would have to ask England how they feel about that and they had some interesting tactics for him ... They would have studied him closely but he just has a knack, well, he is the best problem-solver in the game."
Australia have in the past lost multiple series after taking a 1-0 lead but Langer said that he and captain Tim Paine would ensure there is no letup.
"(We) keep being honest about where we're at; we've still only won one test match. And we've got a captain who is that focused in there and he's the best wicketkeeper in the world," Langer said.
"I thought the way he batted in the first innings, he freed up and he's worked really hard. He's a brilliant leader, a great bowler and I thought tactically he was superb.
"He is so focused in this series, so there is no way he is going to let it slip and I guarantee you, I'm not going to let it slip either."
Smith, meanwhile, said his brilliant contribution was a dream come true after the pain of his ball-tampering ban. It was a personal triumph for the 30-year-old, who was playing in his first Test since a 12-month ban for his role in last year's shocking ball-tampering scandal on Australia's tour of South Africa.
"It feels pretty special, winning the first Test in England is really special. It feels great, I'm loving being back playing cricket for Australia, doing what I love and contributing to wins," Smith told BBC's Test Match Special.
"To score two hundreds in a match -- the first time I've done that in any form of cricket in my life -- is very special and I'm very proud."
Smith's appetite for runs is such that he is being compared to Australia sporting icon Don Bradman, widely regarded as the greatest-ever Test batsman.
Bradman, in a career spanning the years either side of World War II, averaged a staggering 99.94 in 52 Tests including 29 hundreds. Of batsmen to have played at least 20 Test innings, Smith's career average of 62.96 is second only in the all-time list to that of 'the Don'.
(With inputs from agencies)