'Best I've ever played': Smith recalls 2015 glory
Five years on from Australia’s last World Cup triumph, Steve Smith recalls a career high point and the winning feeling he desperately wants to re-live
26 March 2020, 02:13 PM AEST
A bare-footed Steve Smith sat in a circle with his Australian teammates and support staff on the outfield of Edgbaston last year and told them of a moment in his career he was desperate to re-live.
Coach Justin Langer had asked his troops to take off their shoes and socks and share memories of their playing days and future ambitions ahead of their World Cup semi-final clash against England in July.
When it was Smith's turn, his mind went back to four years earlier and the highlight of his career in the coloured clothing of his country.
"I said I was part of the 2015 World Cup and that feeling when we won there and the emotion and the looks on people's faces, the smiles of everyone involved after winning the World Cup was incredibly special and I wanted to re-live that moment," Smith told cricket.com.au.
"Obviously, we didn't play well enough in that semi-final and England went on to win it.
"But I'd love to re-live that moment again at some point in my career, that's for sure."
The moment was when Smith hit the winning runs, with a "whip-pull shot kinda thing" as he describes it, to clinch a seven-wicket win over New Zealand, secure Australia's fifth 50-over World Cup it in front of 93,013 fans at a rocking Melbourne Cricket Ground on March 29, 2015.
As Smith's unorthodox shot sped towards the rope he shed his helmet, bat and gloves and jumped into the arms of his batting partner Shane Watson to create one of the most iconic pictures in the tournament's rich history.
The scenes of jubilation in the moments that followed – from greeting his stampeding teammates who had flooded the field, to lifting the trophy, to celebrating for several days with friends, family and his teammates – was the icing on the cake of perhaps Smith's fondest campaign in the national side.
"It was a pretty special moment to be there at the end and hit the winning runs in a World Cup final," he said.
"It's something I'll certainly never forget. Jumping into Watto's arms and everyone running out on to the field it was just an amazing moment.
"It was a pretty special six to eight weeks where we were together playing in a World Cup at home and finishing on that note made it even more special.
"That time was probably the most enjoyable six to eight weeks I've had – great fun, good bunch of guys and I loved every minute of it."
Personally, it capped off a stellar tournament for Smith, who, looking back now, was not considered part of Australia's best ODI XI nine months earlier.
However, an injury to skipper Michael Clarke and the promotion to No.3 at the suggestion of acting captain George Bailey proved a turning point.
His calm presence at first drop was exactly what the Australian team needed, balancing the explosive opening partnership of David Warner and Aaron Finch and the hard-hitting lower order of Watson, Glenn Maxwell and Brad Haddin.
It also helped that Smith was in the form of his life during the World Cup.
In his last five innings of the tournament he passed 50 on each occasion, converting one of those half-centuries into three figures when it mattered most – against India in the semi-final at the SCG.
Smith remembers that innings, a knock of 105 from 93 balls, as his finest in 50-over cricket.
"That's probably my favourite one-day innings," he said. "At home, in front of my friends and family in a World Cup semi-final against a star-studded India.
"I remember 'Finchy' was having a bit of trouble, he was finding it hard to score at stages but we were fortunate enough to get a partnership together and build ourselves a platform and do some damage at the end with the firepower we had in the sheds.
"I think it is my best one-day innings, just with all the pressure of a semi-final of a World Cup, at home to be able to do it there."
With his form peaking and confidence sky high, it meant when he strode to the middle at 1-2 in the second over of the final, passing Finch who had been dismissed for a duck by Black Caps spearhead Trent Boult, Smith was undaunted.
Instead, he was excited. And that spelled bad news for New Zealand.
"I was playing as good as I've ever played in one-day cricket," Smith said.
"In fact, I reckon I was feeling as good as I have ever felt at the middle in any form of cricket.
"I just felt in a really good place. I was quite confident and just happy to be out in the middle playing."
Smith finished unbeaten on 56 as Australia chased down 184 for victory inside 34 overs.
While he missed out last year, Smith is still driven to re-live that moment once more before his playing days are done, and it could be as soon as the T20 World Cup in Australia later this year.
"That would be nice," he says. "We'll see."