Australia batsman Steve Smith remains optimistic of winning the Ashes series, despite his team staring at a 78-run deficit after day two of the fifth and final Test at The Oval.

England bounced back from the loss at Old Trafford with a solid bowling performance on Friday, 13 September, bundling out Australia for 225 to build a 69-run lead. Openers Joe Denly and Rory Burns then saw off four overs at the end of the day to extend their advantage.

“We’re only 75 (78) runs behind,” Smith said after the day’s play. “Teams have come back and won from this margin before.

“[This is] Ashes cricket, you got to dig deep. We didn’t come here to retain the Ashes, we came here to win them. When you feel like ‘that’s enough’, you got to give a bit more and just keep coming. The boys will do that tomorrow.”

While Smith, who now has 751 runs at 125.16 in this series, has looked like he’s been batting on a different surface all Ashes, the rest of Australia haven’t quite managed to string together big scores consistently. While they have gone past 480 twice, they haven’t crossed 300 in the rest of their innings.

Smith acknowledged that they could have batted better as a group, but nevertheless said that the overseas experience will hold the group in good stead. “It hasn’t been easy,” he said. “Players that have not done as well as they would like to on this tour will take a lot from the experience.

“You got to find ways to play away from home. Sometimes, you need to change certain little things and adapt accordingly. This will be a good learning curve for the batters.”

You don’t get guys bowling 90 miles per hour growing on trees, and with the skillset he has got

Steve Smith on Jofra Archer

Smith’s 80 at The Oval is the lowest score he has put up in the Ashes so far. It turned out that was because he had been grappling with flu all day.

Smith said that he would’ve liked to play the role that Jos Buttler did in the first innings: the England batsman added 89 runs for the eighth and ninth wickets with Jofra Archer and Jack Leach.

“Been struggling a bit today, have a bit of a flu. Just tried to stay as focused as I could be throughout the day,” Smith said. “Unfortunately, couldn’t bat with the tail for as long as I would’ve liked. Would’ve been nice if I did something similar to what Jos did with their tail.”

Smith spoke highly of England’s bowling effort, particularly of the young Sam Curran and Jofra Archer. The latter claimed his second six-wicket haul – 6/62 – on Friday, while Curran, playing in his first Test of the series, toiled hard for his 3/46. 

“England bowlers bowled pretty well. Curran generated some nice swing and bowled a pretty good spell there,” Smith said. “Unfortunate that we weren’t able to put together at least one more good partnership.

“Jofra’s a quality performer. He’s got two fifers in four Test matches. You don’t get guys bowling 90 miles per hour growing on trees, and with the skillset he has got…. He’s a terrific bowler. He’s got a very bright future.”


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