January 8, 2018 / 7:45 AM / 13 days ago

Cricket: Master batsman Smith hails bowlers after the 'patience' Ashes

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Steve Smith’s 687 runs were one clear point of difference between the two sides in the Ashes but the Australia captain was happier to talk about his bowlers after wrapping up a 4-0 series triumph on Monday.

The 28-year-old looked all but immovable at the crease at times during the series and three centuries, one a double and two unbeaten, left him with an average of 137.4 and his status as the world’s best batsman intact.

His own particular style, shuffling back and forwards across the crease, paid huge dividends but he said he had been pleased with how all the Australian batsmen, who backed him up with six more centuries, had measured their innings.

“At times we had to bat for a little bit longer for the runs that we wanted. It was a series of patience and perhaps our batters had better patience throughout the series,” he said.

”One thing this team’s done really well this series, they’ve adapted to different tempos in the game, different situations in the game and it’s been pleasing to see the way the batting group has progressed.

“Looking at the series as a whole, England had their foot in the door in most test matches but we just won the key moments in the games and didn’t let England back into the games, which was crucial. I was really pleased that we were able to do that.”

Cricket - Ashes test match - Australia v England - SCG, Sydney, Australia, January 8, 2018. Australia's captain Steve Smith recieves the Ashes trophy after winning the fifth Ashes cricket test match and the series 4-0. REUTERS/David Gray

Smith was not about to forget the contribution of the bowlers, especially after all three quicks and spinner Nathan Lyon took more than 20 wickets each and they bowled out England every time the tourists went out to bat.

Lyon and Josh Hazlewood took 21 wickets, Mitchell Starc 22 despite missing the fourth test through injury and Pat Cummins topping the list with 23 after taking 4-39 to clean up the England tail on Monday.

Cricket - Ashes test match - Australia v England - SCG, Sydney, Australia, January 8, 2018. Australia's captain Steve Smith holds a replica Ashes urn next to team mates after they won the fifth Ashes cricket test match and the series 4-0. REUTERS/David Gray

“I think all the bowlers did an exceptional job,” Smith added.

”Each of our bowlers have over 20 wickets which showed that the guys have bowled together as a group, bowled in partnerships, bowled for one another and helped us take the 80 wickets that we’ve needed to take four test matches.

“Nathan has been exceptional with that as well, the way he’s bowled and the consistency he’s had has been outstanding.”

Smith said one of the pleasing things about the series had been the way everybody in the side had contributed, from the batting of the Marsh brothers to Lyon’s direct hit to run out James Vince in the first test in Brisbane.

“For me the moment that changed the whole series was Nathan Lyon and his run out at the Gabba, that was such a huge moment in the series and those sorts of plays can change a series and I think that was a series-changing moment,” he said.

Editing by Amlan Chakraborty

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