Life has completed a full circle for Steve Smith, who defied all the odds and beaten all the negatives to emerge as a winner in the ongoing Ashes 2019. Smith’s road to redemption after the infamous ball-tampering saga was not an easy one as he continuously battled the perceptions wherever he went. However, his real test came against arch-rivals England when he stepped on to the field during the highly-anticipated Ashes and the ever-so hostile fans gave him a tough welcome. But by the end of the series, Smith not only turned boos into a standing ovation but also win over the crowd with his scintillating form with the bat.
The 30-year-old produced a peerless performance in the five-match series to smash 774 runs at a brilliant average of 110.57, including three tons and three fifties. After being on the receiving end during the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, Smith silenced his critics in the best possible manner by coming up with sensational knocks in the high-octane Ashes battle. His critics included the English fans, who rose to a standing ovation after Smith fell for 23 runs in the second innings of the final Ashes Test. Note English journalist Piers Morgan also appreciated Smith’s pyrotechnics and lauded his effort on his official Twitter handle, “The bat, it transpires, is mightier than the sandpaper”.
Talking about the fifth and final Test, Matthew Wade’s top knock single-handedly kept England at bay on the second session of the fourth day at The Oval. The visitors lost two wickets but added 99 runs to be at 167/4. While Australia needs 232 to win the series, England are five wickets away from levelling the five-match rubber.
Resuming the afternoon session from 68/3, Australia could only manage to add another 17 runs before Stuart Broad picked his third wicket of the innings to send back Smith on his individual score of 23 runs. Smith tried to tickle a Broad’s length ball round the corner but Ben Stokes dived low to his left at leg gully to take a sharp catch.
Mitchell Marsh (24) and Wade then joined hands and took their side past the three-digit mark to give their team a sigh of relief. However, the 63-run stand was broken by England skipper Joe Root who accounted for the wicket of Marsh to reduce Australia to 148/5.
Earlier, Broad took out the openers and Jack Leach got Marnus Labuschagne as England continued their march towards a series-levelling win.