Steven Smith's Australia is now a win away from the urn    Getty Images
Steven Smith’s Australia is now a win away from the urn Getty Images

Steven Smith bailed his side out with an incredible 141 not out at The Gabba, helping Australia go 1-0 up against England in The Ashes. Smith could contribute with 40 and 6 in the second Test, but a resilient century from Shaun Marsh and his bowlers scripted Australia a famous win by 120 runs in the day-night Adelaide Test.

Smith believes it is very difficult for a visiting side to script a comeback after being down 0-2. “It’s always tough coming back from 2-0 down, particularly when you re away from home,” Smith told reporters. “You’re only one or two bad sessions away from the series, really. We have to be confident, doing the basics well and just backing up day-in and day-out.”

Sleepless nights

Smith revealed why he was anxious.

“I had to have a sleeping pill last night. It has been a pretty tough 24 hours if I’m being honest. It’s all part of being captain of your country. You have to make difficult decisions and sometimes you’re going to make the wrong decision.

“It’s all part of the learning experience and hopefully I can learn something from this game. But Smith was adamant he had made the right call not to put England back into bat on bowling-friendly conditions with the moving pink ball under the Adelaide Oval lights. I guess my rationale behind the decision was that we were a long way in front of the game. If we bat reasonably well — I thought we batted pretty poorly to be honest to get to 350 we should be getting up over 400.

“We didn’t do that but we were still a long way in front of the game and still confident. I would say that over the last day or two I have had a few different thoughts. I’ve read a lot of things. In the end, we’ve won the game, so it’s all irrelevant.”

Not enforcing a follow-on

Marsh’s hundred guided Australia to a good score of 442. England folded for 227, handing Australia a lead of 215. Smith did not enforce follow-on. Australia were skittled out for 138, and England needed 354 in final five sessions to register a record win.

“A lot of people have been asking me that question (about not enforcing the follow-on),” Smith said. “I haven’t thought too much about it but we’ve won the game. I would have thought about it had we lost. Fortunately we were able to hang in there and get the result we were after. Doesn’t make any difference any more.”

England will now play a two-day match against Cricket Australia XI at Perth on December 9 and 10. The third Test will commence at the same venue from December 14.

Giving bowlers’ rest

Smith wanted to protect his star fast bowlers Starc, Hazlewood and Pat Cummins who have a history of injuries, with the series still alive and three Tests remaining.

“We know it’s a long summer and I think our bowlers are very valuable. Giving these guys a little bit of a rest, it always makes me confident they can come back day in, day out and do the job we need them to do. We also wanted to keep the England bowlers bowling. They bowled 150 overs in the first innings.

“An Ashes series is long and if you can tire their bowlers early in the series then it can make a big difference at the back end. That was also part of it,” Smith further added.

England will now play a two-day match against Cricket Australia XI at Perth on December 9 and 10. The third Test will commence at the same venue from December 14.