Ashes to Ashes, super Smith leaves others in the dust
A look at the incredible, record-breaking feats achieved by Steven Peter Devereux Smith in the 2019 Ashes series
Sam Ferris at The Oval
16 September 2019, 06:14 AM AEST
At 2.04pm local time, Steve Smith walked off the sun-bathed Oval playing surface to a rousing standing ovation from the packed crowd.
Smith had, for the first time this series, fallen prey to an England bowling plan, caught at leg-gully by Ben Stokes from the bowling of Stuart Broad for 23, his final innings of an extraordinary, record-breaking Ashes campaign.
In seven innings, Smith scored 774 runs at an average of 110.57, having made three hundreds – including one double-century – and as many half-centuries.
His mammoth runs haul is the fifth most in an Ashes series, behind Don Bradman's 974 in 1930, Wally Hammond's 905 two years earlier, Mark Taylor's 839 made 30 years ago, and Bradman again in 1936-37 with 810.
It is also the 12th most prolific Test series ever and the most in a five-match Test series since West Indies legend Brian Lara's 798 runs in England in 1994.
Smith's top score of the tour – 211 at Old Trafford – was his third Ashes double century. Only Bradman (eight) and Hammond (four) have more Ashes double hundreds than Smith.
His 211 was also his 11th Ashes Test century. As is the case with most Ashes batting records, Bradman owns top spot with 19 Ashes tons. In second place with 12 is England legend Jack Hobbs, with Smith coming in at third.
Incredibly, Smith now has more Ashes hundreds in England than any Englishman. Smith's six is, of course, behind the record of 11 by Bradman, but one more than the England record of five by Stanley Jackson from 1893-1905.
Smith started the series with a bang, scoring 144 and 142 at Edgbaston to become just the fifth Australian batter to score twin hundreds in an Ashes Test.
Opening batter Matthew Hayden was the last Australian to score a century in both innings of an Ashes Test, posting 197 and 103 in 2002 at the Gabba, while Steve Waugh was the last to do it in England with 108 and 116 at Old Trafford in 1997.
When he wasn't reaching triple figures, Smith set a new world record in scoring half-centuries, and plenty of them.
His 80 in the first innings at The Oval was his 10th consecutive half-century against England, dating back to the last Test of the 2015 Ashes series in England.
Smith's run of 50-plus scores is the most against a single opponent, beating Pakistan great Inzamam-ul-Haq's record of nine, also against England.
It is no surprise that during his run-fest, Smith reclaimed the No.1 Test batter ranking from India captain Virat Kohli.
During Smith's 16-month stint on the sidelines while he served his ban, Kohli climbed to the top of the rankings, but after just two Tests back, Smith returned to the top.
The Australian now sits 34 points clear of Kohli, but that margin could narrow after only scoring 103 runs in the fifth and final Ashes Test.
All these runs were scored in three-and-a-half Tests after Smith became the holder of a unique and unwanted record.
Smith became the first player in the history of international cricket to be ruled out of a match with concussion and replaced mid-game by Queenslander Marnus Labuschagne.
The 30-year-old was struck on the back of the neck by a searing bouncer by express paceman Jofra Archer in the second Test, and while he returned after leaving the field and passing his concussion tests, he experienced delayed concussion and was forced out of the final day at Lord's.
The concussion ruled him out of the third Test at Headingley, which England miraculously won by one wicket, but he returned in grand fashion with 211 and 82 in the 185-run win in Manchester, which ensured Australia would retain the Ashes urn.