Steve Smith has scored a century in every single test series since his debut in 2013, bar one. It's just one of those statistics that gobsmack Australian cricket fans as we pause to reflect on how lucky we are to have him. 

It also makes us reflect on how big a problem we'd have if we didn't. 

But it's discomforting to know that the one test series he didn't notch a ton in was against South Africa in 2016, a 2-1 loss to the Proteas that saw Smith make a top score of 59. 

In this series, Smith has only notched one half-century, a top score of 56. He's averaging just above 30 and when you add the newly-reinstated phenomenon of Kogiso Rabada, those problems you were thinking of? They just became real.

It seems that Proteas captain du Plessis has worked out a way to nullify Smith, according to his recent press conference.

“I think with all good players you want to make sure that you make it as tough as possible for them, especially that first hour or first 15-20 balls,” du Plessis told

“They are just a little bit better than normal players. If you get them going quickly they kick-start their innings very quickly. 

“For me as a captain, it’s important how we start against him. 

“In the previous game he was one off 15 balls or something like that. 

“It’s about making sure you’re particularly concentrating when you’re bowling that first few balls at him to make him not get off to that fluent innings, to make his innings get going. 

“But he’s a very good player so I’m sure he’ll be very hungry for runs this test match.”

It may sound overly simplistic, because it is. Du Plessis isn't about to reveal the inner-workings of his bowlers minds. But when you combine a devastating pace attack with aggressive tactics, it's bound to make any batsman squirm.

The Aussies better hope their captain - who's saying he's "hitting the ball better than ever" can find a way around his current slump. If other nations sniff a weakness in their talisman, things could go downhill fast.