Tue, Sep 10, 2019 - Page 16 News List

Retaining Ashes is tick off bucket list, Smith says

Reuters, MANCHESTER, England

Australia players celebrate after beating England on the fifth day of the fourth Ashes Test at Old Trafford in Manchester, England, on Sunday.

Photo: AFP

Steve Smith on Sunday said that retaining the Ashes in England was one to tick off his bucket list after Australia beat their archrivals by 185 runs to win the fourth Test at Old Trafford.

England battled tenaciously to try and force an unlikely draw on the final day, but Australia eventually bowled them out for 197 to take a 2-1 lead to The Oval and ensure that even a series draw would mean they retain the urn.

Former captain Smith — who has endured boos from the home crowds for his role in last year’s ball-tampering scandal, but has responded by piling up 671 runs in five innings — said it was incredibly special to retain the Ashes in England, something Australia have not done for 18 years.

“It feels amazing to know the urn is coming home,” Smith told Sky Sports as the celebrations continued around him. “I’ve been here a few times where things haven’t quite gone our way. We haven’t performed to the best of our ability in ’13 and ’15, but it was always one I wanted to tick off my bucket list to get the urn over here.”

Australia’s attack toiled long and hard all day after England had begun the day on 18-2 chasing an unlikely 383 to win.

A stubborn ninth-wicket stand between Jack Leach and Craig Overton offered England faint hopes of surviving, but part-time spinner Marnus Labuschagne removed Leach before Overton was trapped leg before wicket by Josh Hazlewood.

“The boys were getting a bit tired out there, but at the start of the day we thought we would have our eight chances and it proved to be the way. England fought incredibly hard, and Overton was exceptional and showed great courage,” Smith said.

Hazlewood said there had been some anxious moments as England dug in.

“The heart was definitely beating fast in that last couple of hours,” he said. “When we got Jos [Buttler] I think we felt we had the time, but it was a hell of a last couple of hours.”

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