Steve Smith makes call on retirement amid runout drama in fifth Ashes Test

The third umpire had their work cut out for them, with Steve Smith going on to post a much-needed half century for the Aussies.

Steve Smith is pictured batting on the left, and highlighted diving for his crease on the right.
Steve Smith has rejected rumours of his impending Test retirement, after surviving a controversial run-out appeal on day two of the fifth Test. Pictures: Getty Images

Steve Smith has rubbished suggestions he is planning to retire from Test cricket following the conclusion of the Ashes, after speculation surrounding himself and David Warner's future reached a fever pitch prior to the beginning of the fifth Test. The former skipper's first innings knock of 71, aided by a fortuitous third umpire decision on a run-out affected by Jonny Bairstow and substitute fielder George Ealham, proved crucial as Australia seized a narrow 12-run advantage in the first innings.

Much of the talk of Steve Smith's future was sparked when former England captain Michael Vaughan posited that he had heard unattributed 'whispers' within cricket circles that the veteran due was planning on retiring - despite Warner pledging he wanted to wait until the New Year's Test to farewell the long game.

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Smith on the other hand, has given no indication he plans on retiring, telling reporters at stumps on day two that such suggestions were far from accurate. He said the talk of him walking away from the game had left him taken aback.

"I'm not retiring," Smith said. "I have no idea (where it's come from), because I haven't said it to anyone. I am not going anywhere yet."

Warner had also rubbished suggestions of an early retirement when asked about it prior to the fifth Test, with his wife, Candice Warner, also rejecting the rumours. The Aussie opener said his plans to see out his Test career at the SCG remained unchanged.

“I don’t have an announcement,” Warner said before the final showdown at The Oval. “For me it’s about trying to work hard in the nets as I did today and if selected, go out there and play and try and win an Ashes series. I came here last time and it was a draw.

"Hopefully, we can go away with a series win and then that’ll be a fitting Ashes campaign for us and a fitting tour over here in England with the World Test Championship as well. We’re here as a group and we’re united and hopefully we can achieve that.”

Steve Smith survives controversial run-out for Ashes breakthrough

It was a welcome innings from Smith who has endured an uncharacteristically inconsistent series in England, with his good fortune at the hands of third umpire Nitin Menon powering him to his best innings of the series since his century at Lord's. Apart from that innings and another century in the World Test championship final against India, Smith has failed to pass 50 in every other innings.

However it was fortunate that he got there at all, saved by Manon's call that replays would later show likely should have been given out, with Smith's desperate dive just short as both bails were dislodged. It was only thanks to the slightly clumsy effort from Bairstow, which saw him remove one of the bails before the England keeper had complete control of the ball, that might have landed him the benefit of the doubt.

Smith, his jumper dirtied from the desperate lunge, had already begun trudging back to the Australian rooms before being called back. He was on 43 runs at the time, a major reprieve with the extra 28 runs he added as a result proving crucial.

“Initially I saw it and I saw the bail go up. It was close,” Smith said at the end of the day. “I got given not out in the end, so I can’t do much else.”

Johnny Bairstow knocks over the stumps as Steve Smith is seen diving behind him.
Steve Smith came impossibly close to being run-out in Australia's first innings, saved only by a divisive call from the third umpire. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

The decision proved divisive, despite the likes of Jofra Archer weighing on on social media to describe the umpire's job as a 'tough one' under the circumstances. Former England skipper Nasser Hussain said it would have been a 'nightmare' review, however he believed the correct decision had been made.

“I thought it was a nightmare for the third umpire and I think he got it right," Hussain said.

“He had to see if both grooves were out, he had to see what Bairstow had done. I think he got it right, but it was a nightmare.”

With AAP

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