Steven Smith    Getty Images
Steven Smith Getty Images

Would Steven Smith have braved the expanding cracks at the WACA on the rain-blemished Day Five? Would Smith have survived the delivery that Mitchell Starc hurled to James Vince? Graeme Swann, not sure whether jokingly, said that it would have ushered out Don Bradman, Sachin Tendulkar, and even Smith himself a thousand times. You cannot answer no despite being a nonbeliever in Smith’s unaesthetic batting. He would have found edges, but for the madness we know him for, he would have endured anything that came his way.

Smith woke up, got ready, took the team bus, padded up, and broke records like it is a part of his routine. He owned the third Test of the 2017-18 Ashes. He scored his 22nd hundred 20th since 2014. He then sprang to his highest score 239. He batted and batted and batted to throw England off the rails.

While keeping us all in a maze, he accumulated records that he has been rolling up for the past 4 years, that we thought were a mere numbers. There was always more to the story than his comparison with Virat Kohli, Joe Root, and Kane Williamson.

This was the fourth successive time that he amassed over 1,000 runs in a calendar year, and is only 4 years. And above all, he now has the second-best average in Tests, after Don Bradman.

All this, the Smith phenomenon, coursed Australia back to the urn, pounding England into the WACA dirt by an innings and 41 runs.

If you wonder, after all this, as to what constitutes Smith, let me tell you that he drags his fianc e to feed balls into bowling machine.

Root edges the urn to Smith

Joe Root’s wicket in the last session of Day Four had given away the urn. Trying to counterattack, Root edged the first ball off Nathan Lyon. The ball would have journeyed past Smith on another day, but the luck had already sided him. Root walked back with his head down in disappointment. He then knew England have been reduced to ashes in his first assignment in Australia as captain. Although James Vince put up a fight and rain came to England’s rescue, Josh Hazlewood’s terrific five-wicket haul wrapped up the English innings for 218 on the final day. With this, the Ashes tally now reads 33-32 in Australia’s favour.

Newcomers shine in Cook’s 150th Test

This match was about celebrating Alastair Cook s 150th Test. It rather jubilated Smith s 239 and Marsh s 181. In the second innings as well, Cook failed after getting a decent start. Hazlewood took a one-handed beauty off his own bowling.

On the other hand, the newcomers Mark Stoneman, James Vince, and Dawid Malan all who had averaged below 30 before the series provided the impetus England were yearning for. Jonny Bairstow too joined the wagon with his hundred, but the veterans failed to raise their game when in trouble.

England bowlers were obliterated by the might of Smith and Marsh. James Anderson finished with 4 for 116, but Stuart Broad and Moeen Ali lacked teeth in their bowling.

Mitchell Marsh Selectors’ masterstroke

Leaving Peter Handscomb out at the expense of Mitchell Marsh turned out to be a masterstroke by the selectors. They must have cheered ecstatically every time Marsh hit a boundary.

29 runs of Mitchell s 181 came down the ground and 75 through covers, and this is evidence to Mitchell s approach. Although the track was a belter, Mitchell played with a straight bat and and immensely powerful forearms. Those straight-drives were a photographer s delight. The mid-off and mid-on were mere spectators, and the umpire had to often dodge to save himself from Mitchell s might.

Along with Smith, he added 301 runs for the fifth wicket, steering Australia to a 229-run lead in the first innings. And thus began the urn’s journey back to the Australian side…

Brief scores:

England 403 (Mark Stoneman 56, Dawid Malan 140, Jonny Bairstow 119; Mitchell Starc 4 for 91, Josh Hazlewood 3 for 92) and 218 (James Vince 55, Dawid Malan 54; Josh Hazlewood 5 for 48) lost to Australia 662 for 9 declared (Steven Smith 239, Mitchell Marsh 181; Craig Overton 4 for 116) by 127 41.

Player of the Match: Steven Smith

Full scorecard