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Steve Smith's role in one of Test cricket's most fascinating finishes has been revealed after the vice-captain took it upon himself to make a crucial decision on Day 5 at the SCG.
England held out for a thrilling draw as Australia searched for one more wicket with two overs remaining as rain clouds hovered during the fourth Test of the Ashes series.
'DIDN'T NEED TO': Pat Cummins under scrutiny after Ashes draw
The visitors reached 9-270 after surviving 102 overs, with No.11 Jimmy Anderson navigating an over of Steve Smith's legspin in fading light before the nail-biting contest ended at 6.50pm AEDT.
Stuart Broad negotiated Nathan Lyon's final over before Anderson denied Smith's hopes of a fairytale SCG finish to rival Michael Clarke's magic in 2008.
However, it has been revealed Smith made a crucial decision a little earlier to help remove Jonny Bairstow off Scott Boland's bowling and ultimately helped keep Australia's hopes alive.
With Australia desperately searching for a way to end Bairstow's stoic knock, captain Pat Cummins threw Boland the ball.
With the field set, Smith took a moment before telling Marnus Labuschagne to also get under the helmet at silly mid-off.
The move proved a masterstroke as a Bairstow inside edge onto his pads popped up to Labuscahgne who took a brilliant catch.
Reporter Bharat Sundaresan was quick to point out the tactical move from Smith.
Twice in the last two overs, Steve Smith has taken an executive decision as vice-captain to get Marnus Labuschagne into silly-point for both batters #Ashes
— Bharat Sundaresan (@beastieboy07) January 9, 2022
Smith's call wasn't the first time his influence has been felt this series.
Cummins admitted after the first Test at the Gabba that Smith told him he should bowl instead of Mitchell Starc.
The move resulted in Cummins snagging the wicket of Ben Stokes.
Pat Cummins under fire for SCG draw
While the match played out in thrilling circumstances, some felt that Cummins should have declared earlier to give his chargers a greater chance of bowling out the tourists, particularly considering the wet weather that was forecast.
England reached 9-270 after surviving 102 overs, with No.11 Jimmy Anderson navigating an over of Steve Smith's leg-spin in fading light before the nail-biting contest ended at 6.50pm AEDT.
The result ends Cummins' hopes of captaining what would have been just the fourth 5-0 Ashes sweep in the storied 145-year history of Test cricket.
“I think he’ll be thinking about that declaration yesterday,” Mark Waugh said in commentary for Fox Sports.
“He’ll be thinking, ‘Hmm, I think I went a bit long, I better win this game for us now otherwise I’ll be looking back thinking why did I keep batting?’
“I think they batted too long. They did not need to bat as long as they did.
“340 was plenty and if they wanted to get to 380-400 they should have got there quicker. There was rain forecast, there were a lot of things that said you don’t need to get to 400.”