Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Steve Smith: “I’ve loved every minute.” – Ashes reaction

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Australia’s Steve Smith, who scored 774 runs in the 2019 Ashes series, insisted that he’s “enjoyed every minute” despite drawing the series and losing the fifth and final test.

“It’s been an amazing couple of months in England”, said Smith. “The cricket’s been spectacular. The series has ebbed and flowed.

“I’ve loved every minute and am proud to have been able to perform for Australia and bring the urn home.

“The middle of the wicket still played pretty well, and Wade applied himself, batted beautifully today. But England played terrific cricket.”

England skipper Joe Root was a happy man after seeing his side draw the Ashes series 2-2 following a 135-run win at The Oval.

Four wickets each from Stuart Broad and Jack Leach helped to wrap up victory as Australia, who had already retained the urn, were bowled out for 263 in their second innings with Jofra Archer’s six for 62 in the first having laid the foundation.

Root said: “We were excellent this week. Having lost the toss, to play as we did was fantastic. We drove the game all the time and got there in the end.

“Jofra makes things happen, and he’s backed up with other skilful bowlers. Collectively we’ve shown a lot of character throughout the whole series.

“We were not always at our best, but we’ve fought really hard. Credit to Tim (Paine) and his team.”

England’s man of the series Ben Stokes admitted his disappointment at not being able to win back the Ashes, but said he and his team-mates were able to take some comfort from drawing the series.

Stokes said: “Obviously it was disappointing in Manchester for us to know that we couldn’t get the Ashes back.

“But we turned up here this week knowing that we still had a huge amount of pride and the Test Championship to play for, and we managed to draw the series, which was the goal at the end of this game.”

Australia captain Tim Paine was disappointed to have lost the fifth Test, but proud of his side’s performances over the series.

Asked if he had any regrets, Paine said: “Regrets? I’ve got a couple – to start with, the toss. We didn’t take our chances on day one, we didn’t back up our bowlers.

“England got ahead of the game. I can’t read a pitch so I’m always 50-50. We’ve got to bat, bowl better than we did in this Test match.

“No doubt today puts a dampener on it, but from where this group’s come from, to retain the Ashes is still a big deal.”

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