Steve Smith insists he will continue to work to get better despite an outstanding series for Australia as they retained the Ashes in England.
Former captain Smith, making his Test return after a 12-month ban for his role in the team’s ball-tampering scandal, was named the player of the series on Sunday after producing a number of sensational displays.
England earned a 2-2 draw by winning the fifth match at The Oval as Smith made just 23 in the second innings – by far his lowest total of the tour – yet his performances to that point had almost singlehandedly ensured the urn would return to Australia.
He scored 144 and 142 as Australia won the first Test at Edgbaston and then again starred in their second win, making 211 and 82 at Old Trafford in the fourth match.
Smith is not content to rest on his laurels following these efforts, though, determined he will do whatever he can to keep winning matches for Australia.
“Of course you always want to get better as a player,” he said. “I’ll continue to try to get better as long as I play.
“That’s the key, I think. You’ve got to keep working hard. Nothing’s ever too much, you’ve just got to keep working hard and try to do whatever you can to win the game for your team. I’ll continue to do that as long as I can.”
The ball-tampering scandal meant Smith was jeered by England fans throughout the tour, yet he received a standing ovation after being bowled out for the final time on Sunday.
— ICC (@ICC) September 15, 2019
“It meant a lot. It’s been an amazing couple of months in England, with the World Cup and the Ashes. The cricket has been absolutely spectacular,” he said.
“The series has ebbed and flowed throughout and there’s been some terrific cricket played. I’ve loved every minute. I’m really proud to be able to perform for Australia and help to bring the urn home.”
Australia came up 135 runs short of England in the fifth match, though, unable to secure even a fifth day as Smith rued his and his team-mates’ failure to help Matthew Wade, who smashed 117.
“We thought the middle of the wicket still played pretty well and Matthew Wade showed that if you applied yourself and had really good plans and keep taking the game on, you can score runs,” he added.
“He batted beautifully. Unfortunately, he didn’t have many of us stick around with him long enough to help the team out.
“But England played some terrific cricket throughout this Test match and throughout this series as well. It’s been great fun to be involved in.”