Ashes 2021-22: Smith hails Starc showing after Australia take 2-0 series lead

By Sports Desk December 20, 2021

Steve Smith felt Mitchell Starc bowled "as well as he has for a long time" after Australia cruised to a 275-run victory over England in the second Ashes Test to take a 2-0 series lead.

The hosts posted a mammoth first-innings declaration total of 473-9 at the Adelaide Oval after Smith had stepped up as stand-in captain, following new Test skipper Pat Cummins coming into close contact with a positive COVID-19 case last Wednesday.

England could only muster 236 in response, despite 80 and 62 from Dawid Malan and captain Joe Root respectively, with Starc taking 4-37 from his 16 overs – only Nathan Lyon went at a lower economy (2.07).

Australia were again able to declare in the second innings, setting England an improbable 468 to win, before tearing through the tourists to leave six wickets required for victory on the final day.

Jos Buttler battled hard during a 207-ball stint but fell in unusual circumstances as he trod on his stumps going back to Starc, before Jhye Richardson fittingly sealed victory to complete his maiden five-wicket Test haul by removing James Anderson.

While Richardson managed a final-innings 5-42, Smith reserved special praise for Starc – who boasted 7-80 after two wickets in the second innings.

"Mitchell Starc bowled as well as he has for a long time, he led this attack well," Smith told reporters at the post-match presentation.

"He summed it up quickly that there wasn't a great deal of swing so he just wanted to bash a good length and hit some good areas - he did that as well as he has in his career.

"He looked in really good rhythm and I'm incredibly proud of the way he went about his business."

Australia have now won each of their last nine pink-ball Test matches, the only side with a perfect 100 per cent winning record, while England are winless in their last four day-night fixtures since last defeating West Indies in August 2017.

Smith, who fell seven short of a century in the first innings, was captaining for the first time since the 2018 ball-tampering scandal in Newlands and enjoyed his return to the helm, while hailing the performance of some England batters.

He added: "We weren't nervous. They showed some good resistance and fight. Jos played extremely well - it was an innings we haven't seen from him before, he's usually a bit of a dasher. He showed good fight, as well as [Chris] Woakes and [Ollie] Robinson.

"We felt there was time left and all it would take was a couple of good balls.

"I had fun this week as captain and did enjoy it. The guys played really well. We were able to control the game from the first day as Marnus [Labuschagne] and Davey [Warner] set it up with their partnership.

"So we were able to declare when we wanted and bowl where we wanted to bowl."

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