‘Relaxed and chilled’ Steve Smith in the form of his life
Steve Smith feels he is in the form of his life after playing a starring role in Australia’s Ashes success in England.
Australia retained the urn with a match to spare by completing a hard-fought 185-run win in the fourth Test at Old Trafford.
Victory was secured when England were bowled out for 197 on Sunday evening but it was set up by the brilliance of Smith.
Smith scored 211 and 82 in the match on his return from injury, following up on his knocks of 144, 142 and 92 earlier in the series.
It has been a brilliant return to Test cricket for Smith, following his high-profile sacking as captain and suspension following Australia’s ball-tampering scandal last year.
Smith said: “We came here to win the Ashes. We’ll celebrate hard tonight, knowing the urn is coming home, but we also want to win at the Oval.
“I’m not sure I have ever played better. I have come back fresh from a year out, but relaxed and chilled out.
“I want to be the one in the middle doing my job for the team as I don’t particularly enjoy watching cricket!”
Australia captain Tim Paine also paid tribute to Smith.
He said: “Anyone who has watched him bat knows the talent, hunger and skill that he has got, but people don’t see how driven he is and how he trains, eats and sleeps batting.
“He is just a genius and I never had any doubt he would come back and be the player he was. The scary thing is he’s getting better. I don’t know where it is going to stop but we are enjoying being on the ride that is for sure.”
Paine also hailed the character of his squad to bounce back after a shattering loss in the third Test at Headingley.
He said: “There were a few nervous moments there coming off Headingley but I thought we learnt from that, held our nerve and bowled really well against a team that fought really hard like we knew they would.
“In terms of what we’ve been able to achieve as a group it is pretty satisfying from where we’ve come from in the last 18 months.
“It’s great character, it shows the great people we have got and shows we’ve also got some really good cricketers in our team. I am also proud of our staff.
“Also from where we’ve come from even from last week. That was a loss that would break a lot of teams. I could feel it during the week but we turned up here and did our job like good sports teams do.”