Extraordinary twist in Steve Smith controversy on final day of Ashes

Sam Goodwin
Sports Editor

After four and a half months of boos and barbs, Steve Smith finally received the reception he deserved then vowed to improve as a superb series finished on a subdued note at the Oval.

The Aussie superstar was dismissed for 23 on the final day of the fifth Test - his lowest total of the series.

However in doing so he brought his series tally to 774 runs from seven innings at an average of 110.57.

It marked the most runs by a single batsman in a Test series this century.

Smith’s series was extraordinary, but the most extraordinary moment perhaps came when he was leaving the field after his final knock.

The English crowd has booed and jeered nearly all of his milestones throughout the series of his life, with the treatment labelled ‘disgraceful’ and ‘shameful’.

But on Sunday the crowd at The Oval rose to its feet and gave Smith a standing ovation as he departed for the final time.

There was the usual smattering of jeers, however they were drowned out by the applause and cheers.

“It was a nice reception when I walked off, it would have been nice to have a few more runs under my belt,” Smith said after play.

Steve Smith walks off after being dismissed during day four of the fifth Test. (Photo by Mike Egerton/PA Images via Getty Images)

“I have given it my all while I have been here for the last four-and-a-half months but I didn’t have much more to give today.

“I was pretty cooked mentally and physically and I am looking forward to a couple of weeks off and heading back for the Australian summer.

“It has been back-to-back and kept going and I am sure over the next couple of weeks I will look back and reflect (on his achievements).

“I am proud of my performances over the three-and-a-half Test matches I’ve played here and to take the urn back home. That was the goal and I am proud I was able to play some part in that.”

Fans even applauded as Smith was awarded man of the series, resisting the temptation to ruin the moment with boos.

The cricket public certainly noticed the crowd’s gesture for Smith.

Smith vows to get even better

Smith, who singled out wife Dani for her support during a year-long suspension, is yet to mull over his achievement.

"I am sure over the next couple of weeks I will look back and reflect. I am proud of my performances ... and to take the urn back home. That was the goal," he said.

"The first innings was my favourite ... it gave me the confidence to know I could slot straight back in.

"You always want to get better. I'll continue to work hard."

There was a sense of disbelief as Smith logged his lowest score of the series, snapping a world-record streak of 10 consecutive 50-plus scores against England.

England captain Joe Root conceded it had been Smith's Ashes.

"He's been a pain, really. He's played extremely well, he's the No.1 batter in the world for a reason," Root said.

"In difficult conditions, he's stood up and done something very special and been the difference really."

STEVE SMITH'S BEST TEST SERIES

*774 runs at 110.57 from seven innings (2019 Ashes)

*769 runs at 128.16 from eight innings (2014-15 v India)

*687 runs at 137.40 from seven innings (2017-18 Ashes)

WHAT RECORDS DID HE BREAK?

*Registered 10 consecutive 50-plus scores against England. The previous record for such a streak against one opposition belonged to Pakistan great Inzamam-ul-Haq, who did it nine times on the trot against England.

*Smith scored 1251 runs during that stretch of 10 consecutive innings. The previous record for such a streak against one opposition belonged to Don Bradman (1236 runs v England, 1937-1946).

WHAT ELSE?

*Don Bradman, Mark Taylor and Neil Harvey are the only Australians to have enjoyed a more prolific series than Smith.

*Smith registered his fourth, fifth and sixth Test tons in England. No Englishman has posted more Ashes tons in England than him.

*Smith stroked more boundaries this series (97) than David Warner scored runs (95).

*Since the start of the Oval Test in the 2015 Ashes, Smith has plundered 1604 runs at 123.38 from 15 Ashes innings.

*Since the start of the Oval Test in the 2013 Ashes, Smith has plundered 6353 runs at 73.02 (including all 26 tons of his career).

with AAP