Ashes 2019: Steve Smith turns boos into standing ovation in final innings

Indianexpress

Indianexpress

Author 2019-09-16 13:17:19

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Steve Smith departed The Oval pitch after being dismissed by Stuart Broad on the fourth day of the fifth Ashes Test on Sunday, amidst an applauding English crowd who were on their feet. Despite being dismissed on just 23, the home crowd resorted to a standing ovation rather than boos, because of Smith’s generational showing of talent whilst flashing a bat in the 2019 Ashes series.

Unparalleled in his exhibition with the bat and sometimes even fielding, Smith was undoubtedly the player of the series that graced the English summer. In Edgbaston at Birmingham, when he had come on for the first innings, he was welcomed with crying face masks and heavy jeers because of his involvement in the infamous ball-tampering scandal. However, the 30-year-old shut down his critics by scoring the fifth-highest ever runs in an Ashes series, putting 774 runs on the scoreboard in just seven innings.

Smith ended the series at an average of 110.57, where the sequence of his scores were 144, 142, 92, 211, 92, 80 and 23.

English journalist Piers Morgan took to Twitter to laud the talent of Smith, saying, “The bat, it transpires, is mightier than the sandpaper”.

READ | ‘Bradmanesque’: Steve Smith and his records in Ashes 2019

Even though after his dismissal, Matthew Wade put up a valiant 117-run knock, chasing a target of 399 runs Australia were brought to their knees after brilliant bowling spells from Stuart Broad and Jack Leach. Even England captain Joe Root had gone in on the act and bagged two wickets, to give England a 135-run win at The Oval to level the series.

Keeping the loss aside, even the highlights of the final Test featured Smith who astonished one and all with a mind-numbing catch fielding in the slip cordon. Making up for not getting a chance to entertain the London crowd with his bat on the third day, he did no wrong in dismissing Chris Woakes, after flinging himself like a caped superhero towards a fast-travelling ball from second slip.

The day before that, he was tricked by England wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow’s cheekiness on the pitch, which also had become a talking point on social media amongst fans. On the second day, Bairstow made Smith throw himself back to the marker after a case of fake fielding, which surprisingly to many, did not make the on-field umpires Marais Erasmus and Kumar Dharamsena feel the need to award five penalty five runs.

READ | Why Australia were not awarded five penalty runs for Jonny Bairstow’s fake fielding

After the Ashes, Steve Smith will be next seen in action when Australia will host Sri Lanka for a three-match Twenty20 International (T20I) series, starting from October 27. Till then, the highlights of clips from the series would have to be enough for the fans, helping them digest the fact that Smith broke his mark of 769 runs (v India, 2014-15) for the most prolific Test series this entire century.

With the conclusion of Ashes, both England and Australia are joint-third in the ICC Test Championship table with both having 56 points after two wins, two defeat and a draw.

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