December 6, 2017 / 8:53 AM / a year ago

Cricket-Follow-on decision left Australia skipper sweating

ADELAIDE, Dec 6 (Reuters) - Australia captain Steve Smith admits he took a sleeping pill as he dealt with a bout of nerves on the eve of the final day of the second Ashes test after his decision not to enforce the follow-on had given England a sniff of victory.

It all worked out in the end with Australia cantering to a 120-run victory to take a 2-0 lead in the series on Wednesday but Smith conceded he might have had a sleepless night if he had not had a bit of pharmaceutical assistance.

“I had to have a sleeping pill last night. It has been a pretty tough 24 hours if I’m being honest,” he said.

“It’s all part of being captain of your country. You have to make difficult decisions and sometimes you’re going to make the wrong decision.

“I’ll think back and reflect over the next day or so and think what I could have perhaps done differently and could have done better, and areas that I can continue to improve in my leadership.”

Only South Africa captain Dudley Nourse against Australia in 1950 had previously lost a test after failing to enforce the follow-on, and Smith could have joined him if England had managed 178 runs on Wednesday.

Smith said he was still undecided whether it was a good decision or not but that he had expected Australia to back it up by batting a bit better than they did by making just 138 runs in their second innings.

“I guess my rationale was that we’re 215 runs in front of the game, if we bat reasonably well then we should be getting up over 400,” he said.

“All we needed is one good partnership and the game is dead and buried. We didn’t get that partnership.

“Over the last day or so I have had a few different thoughts and I’ve read a lot of things but in the end we won the game so it’s all irrelevant.”

Another factor had been keeping his pace bowlers fresh and tiring out the English seamers.

“We know it’s a long summer and I think the bowlers we’ve got are very valuable,” he said.

“It’s part of an Ashes series, it’s long. And if we can tire their bowlers early in the summer it can make a big difference at the back end.”

Smith, whose 141 not out was the difference between the sides in the first test in Brisbane, contributed 40 and six runs in his two innings in Adelaide.

James Anderson said on Tuesday that he thought England had got to Smith with their sledging. Smith disagreed.

“I think the opposite. I think they switched me on to be perfectly honest,” he said.

“I think when it got me in my little bubble. I have my little idiosyncrasies. It got me going. They can think what they like but from my point of view it got me going.” (Editing by Sudipto Ganguly)

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