Steve Smith was at the helm when he was sent into banishment for a year by Cricket Australia following the infamous ball-tampering saga. He was the No.1 batsman in the world, a post held since December 2015 and on his way to achieving immortality in the cricketing scene Down Under and around the world.
But, you never know what life throws at you. A moment of madness and there was the fall from grace. Sent into the wilderness, away from what he loved the most and a throne, left to be taken over.
And, Virat Kohli happily obliged.
Kohli has been sensational in Test cricket over the past few years. Double centuries in four back-to-back series with the bat and leading the team with equal panache on the field, Kohli followed Smith toe-to-toe. However, the Australian was always ahead.
Since the start of 2016 to before he got banned, Smith smashed 2,609 runs at an average of 66.89. During the period, he hit 10 centuries as well. Kohli, on the other hand, played 25 Tests and scored 2,560 with 10 centuries and averaging 71.11.
But, once Smith left, it didn't take Kohli long to overtake him. During Smith's absence, Kohli scored 1,059 runs from 11 games and smashed four centuries at an average of 55.73. He finally toppled the Aussie in August 2018 and stayed on top until a day back when the latest rankings were announced. Smith once again edged past Kohli, who was just six points ahead of 'Smudge' after the previous update. But with scores of 76 and 0 at Sabina Park, Kohli fell behind Smith and once again has to do the chasing.
Smith marked his return to Test cricket in style with match-winning hundreds at Edgbaston as Australia won the first Ashes Test while scored a fighting 92 in the second Test at Lord's before missing an all-time classic at Headingley due to a concussion picked up from a towering Jofra Archer delivery. Kohli meanwhile, started well in Antigua but a first-ball duck in the second innings of the second Test meant Smith once again edged ahead of the 30-year-old by two points. At the top, every point matters and Kohli came down to 903 points -- one below Smith's 904.
All it took Smith to overtake Kohli and impose his dominance in red-ball cricket was two Test matches.
Smith has now returned to resume his battle with Jofra Archer in Manchester and consolidate his lead at the top of the charts after missing out in Leeds and the two will again be at the centre of things as Australia aim to win the game and take the lead in the five-match series.
Smith so far has been Australia's rock in England this year and it was him, who bailed them out in Edgbaston and saved the game in Lord's. From his peculiar leaves outside the off to the crunchy drives, Smith's show has helped him win over a section of the English crowd, which made his and David Warner's lives hell upon their arrival in the country.
The 30-year-old will once again be back as the best batsman in the world and looking to gun down the Englishmen in his unusual ways and show why he remains the best despite missing out on a year of his life.
As of Kohli, he has to wait till October for the South Africa series to do the scoring once again and give Smith a run for his money.