Ashes 2017/18: I’m Really Proud of the Way the Boys Fought – Steven Smith
Steven Smith could not have asked for a better start to his captaincy career in the Ashes, as his heroic century paved the way for his side’s thumping ten-wicket victory over Australia in the first Test at Brisbane’s Gabba.
The hosts were on the backfoot right from the start after England skipper won the toss, and decided to bat first, and Mark Stoneman and James Vince set the tone for the big score with gutsy fifties.
However, Australia clawed its way back into the game by taking the last six wickets for just 56 runs to restrict the visitors to 302. Steve Smith & Co., however, were still under a lot of pressure after being reduced to 76 for four before the skipper’s unbeaten knock of 141 not only gave them a handy 26-run lead but also shifted the momentum to their side.
As a result, Australia’s bowlers came out all guns blazing and bowled out England for a paltry 195, thus setting the hosts a modest target of 170. In reply, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft stitched together an unbeaten partnership of 173 runs to take their side home with utmost ease inside one hour on the final day of the game.
Speaking after the win, Steven Smith admitted his side was under pressure and lauded his bowlers, singling out Nathan Lyon for restricting England to 302 in the first innings.
“Yeah it was, had to show some really good character throughout, losing the toss, the wicket was a lot slower than we anticipated that it would be. I thought the bowlers did a really terrific job in the first innings to get them out for 300, thought Nathan Lyon was particularly good, going from strength to strength at the moment and bowling like a genius. He did a terrific job holding one end up, and the other guys got the wickets,” he said at the post-match presentation ceremony.
“From then it was hard work at 70/4, had to dig deep and get a big total, fortunately, got ourselves in the lead and then bowled really well in the second innings. And then the two boys did a terrific job to get us home with a ten-wicket win. Looked right at home, didn’t he? (about Bancroft), missed out in the first innings, a bit disappointed. Came out and had some really good plans, he played nice and straight, just backed himself and batted beautifully along with Davey (Warner),” he added.
Smith also said his unbeaten 141-run knock would be up there with his best knocks because of the circumstances under which it came.
“I think it will be up there, certainly for the position we were in. The first Test of an Ashes series, we know that it is really important particularly with our record at The Gabba here, we had to keep that intact. Had to work really hard, had to get off strike well, boundaries were quite hard to come by. Had different plans, had to be really disciplined and resilient. Fortunately, it worked and helped ourselves get into a lead,” he said.
The 28-year old admitted Australia have plans in place for England’s lower-order and one can say the captain would be delighted that they worked. In the first innings, the hosts took the last six wickets for just 56 runs before picking up the final four for a mere 10 in the second innings.
With the next Test set to be played with the pink ball under the floodlights, Smith said his side would have to alter its plans and believes the hosts are ready for the historic game. Australia had played two day-night Tests so far and had won both of them while England was stunned by the Windies in their only day-night Test so far.
“Yeah we have plans for them, I think we made our intentions pretty clear with what we will do for the bottom end of the order. The pink ball in Adelaide might be a little bit different; we will have to come prepared for that in a few days’ time. We’ve got a few different kind of bowlers, think they really work well together. Know each other well and all four of them play for NSW. Hopefully, they bowl well in partnerships,” he said.
“It is nice to have that record (winning both Day-Night games they have played before), let’s hope we keep that record intact as well. Think they have got some bowlers who will suit those sort of conditions, batters have got to turn up, have really good plans and go really big in the first innings,” he added.
Smith had a word of praise for Tim Paine too who was playing his first Test since representing Australia in the longest format of the game way back in 2010.
“I thought he (Paine) kept exceptionally well; there was one chance which was a very thick edge, which bounced a lot and hit him high on the gloves. Besides that, I don’t think he dropped the ball. He was very good next to me at slip. I had no idea that Broady hit it, I don’t think he knew as well. He did a terrific job in his comeback Test match. It is nice to finish quite early, really pleased with the way we have played this Test match. Bowling first at The Gabba is always quite hard. I’m really proud of the way the boys fought,” he added.
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