Steve Smith made a brilliant return to international cricket 18 months after he had hit rock-bottom personally and professionally following the ball-tampering scandal in Cape Town. After being greeted with boos at the start of the England summer in May, Smith went off to a standing ovation after the end of the Oval Test. The right-hander made a strong comeback in the Test arena by smashing 774 runs at an average of 110 with three centuries and three fifties. Smith notched up 10 consecutive fifty-plus scores against England and his batting in the series has been simply phenomenal.
Smith averages 64.56 after 68 Tests, second only to Bradman in the all-time list.Bradman himself averaged a mind-boggling 99.94 in his 52-Test career. Both Smith and Pat Cummins played key roles in helping Australia retain The Ashes. The Ashes culminated with a 135-run victory for England in the fifth and final Test and the series ended in a 2-2 draw. Smith's scores of 80 and 23 in the two innings in the final Test helped him remain at 937 rating points. Cummins too is well clear of other bowlers as he enjoys a lead of 57 points over second-placed Kagiso Rabada after finishing as the top wicket-taker with 29 scalps. India's Jasprit Bumrah is in third place.
Speaking about his achievement, Smith said the first innings century in Edgbaston, in which Australia were reeling at 122/8 was his favorite knock. His twin centuries helped Australia breach fortress Edgbaston as they won for the first time in 18 years.
"The first Test match, as we know, is always incredibly important in an Ashes series and to sort of pull the team out of a bit of trouble at the time and give me that confidence straight up that I could slot back in and perform, that gave me a lot of confidence. It was a long 18 months out of the game and I've got a lot of people to thank, in particular my wife," Smith said.
Smith said he appreciated the reaction from the crowd in London, although he was disappointed not to have ended the series with a flourish. "It was a nice reception as I walked off. It would have been nice if I'd had a few more runs under my belt in this game. I've given it my all since I've been here for the last four-and-a-half-months in every Test match that we've played and I didn't have much left to give today. I'm pretty cooked to be honest, mentally and physically. I'm looking forward to a nice couple of weeks' rest now before getting into the Australian summer," Smith remarked.