Steve Smith, who in Adelaide captained Australia for the first time since 2018 and led the team to a 275-run win, heaped praise on talisman Mitchell Starc, who according to him ‘bowled as well as he has in a long time’.
Starc, known as the pink-ball king, led the Australian attack in Adelaide in the absence of Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood, and produced a near-perfect performance, finishing with match figures of 6/80 but most importantly providing timely breakthroughs for the side. In the second innings the left-armer turned into a metronome and remarkably conceded just 43 off the 27 overs he bowled, his most economical in a Test innings ever.
Smith lavished praise on the 31-year-old for producing a sensational performance in the absence of other senior bowlers.
“A special mention to Starc, who has bowled as well as he's bowled in a long time, and he's led the attack really well. I think he summed it up quickly that it wasn't swinging and he was just hitting a good length and attacking the batsmen,” Smith said in the post-match presentation.
Australia, despite having England four-down at the start of the day, left it really late on Day 5, only securing victory in the final session of the Test. But despite Buttler, together with the lower-order, frustrating the hosts at one point, Smith said that he and his teammates were at no point ‘nervous’.
“I wasn't nervous. I think Jos (Buttler) played very well, and played over 200 balls, so it was good resistance along with Woakes and Robbo (Robinson). We wanted to stay calm because it would take a couple of good balls and a couple of wickets to get the win. I did enjoy captaincy and the guys played well and controlled the game after the first day. Davey (Warner) and Marnus's partnership set it up, so we could control the game.”
Cameron Green has come into his own as a bowler in this series, but the young all-rounder, despite starring with the ball in the first three innings of the series, was not introduced until moments before the conclusion of the second session. The decision to hold back Green seemed bizarre, particularly when the hosts were searching for wickets, but Smith clarified that the 22-year-old was used scarcely in order to ensure that his workload is managed.
“The guys in there said Cam Green shouldn't bowl at all today, because his workload needs to be managed. Ideally he shouldn't have bowled today, but we needed him to bowl because of how good he has been,” Smith said.
The only player in the Australian team under pressure to keep his spot in Marcus Harris, who is averaging just 12.66 in the series thus far, but Smith backed the misfiring opener to come good in the final three Tests, citing that the southpaw has been ‘doing everything right’ in the nets. Smith also claimed that he had no idea on Josh Hazlewood’s availability for Boxing Day.
“I have no idea about Josh Hazlewood (availability for the next game), but Harris is batting well in the nets, so he needs to not overthink it and trust the process and he can turn it around.”