‘We urned it’ – Aussie pride restored in Ashes triumph; Paine hails Smith - GulfToday

‘We urned it’ – Aussie pride restored in Ashes triumph; Paine hails Smith

Steve-Smith

Australia’s captain Tim Paine (left) and Steve Smith celebrate their team’s victory over England in the fourth Ashes Test in Manchester on Sunday. Agence France-Presse

Australia’s cricketers have restored national pride by retaining the coveted Ashes trophy following a reputation-shattering cheating scandal, according to the country’s media who bragged: “We urned it.”

 Eighteen months ago, Australian cricket hit rock bottom when then-captain Steve Smith, his deputy David Warner and opener Cameron Bancroft were involved in a brazen attempt to alter the ball with sandpaper in a Cape Town Test.

 It rattled the game, sparking a clean-out of executive ranks at Cricket Australia, long bans for the three guilty players and the resignation of then-coach Darren Lehmann.

 Justin Langer was appointed to help restore faith in Australian cricket and bring cultural change to a team that was infamous for its abrasive attitude.

 The team struggled to adjust, but under the leadership of “accidental captain” Tim Paine and with greats Ricky Ponting and Steve Waugh recruited as mentors, they have come out the other side.

 “With coach Justin Langer, and the planning of team staff that stretches back two years, the Australian team under Paine has gone beyond just restoring that pride,” said the Sydney Daily Telegraph.

 “They have become winners in their own right, and everyone loves a winner.”

 The Australian newspaper said the team were “almost purified by their victory”.

 “After the sorrows and setbacks of the last 18 months, the country’s cricket has something to celebrate at last,” it added.

 After Sunday’s 185-run victory at Old Trafford on Sunday to retain the Ashes urn, an emotional Paine praised the character of his players.

 “I couldn’t be more proud of the way our group have handled everything thrown at them,” he said.

 “We haven’t had a lot of success and not a lot of happy times. But we are beginning to get them and that is awesome.”

 Fox Sports screamed “We urned it” in its main headline, while broadcaster Channel Nine said the “ghosts of Leeds” had been buried, referring to their agonising third Test loss at Headingley.

 Retaining the Ashes was built on the back of the incredible batting prowess of Smith, whose return for the series after serving his one-year ball-tampering ban showed how badly he had been missed.

 The Sydney Morning Herald said it will always be remembered as “Smith’s Ashes”.

 “Despite missing one-and-a-half Tests, he has made enough runs for three batsmen and more than twice as many as any other on either side,” it noted, while former skipper Mark Taylor said “there’s no superlatives left” to describe his exploits.

 Smith has scored an astonishing 671 runs at an average innings of 134.2, including three hundreds, ahead of the fifth and final Test starting later this week at the Oval.

Australia captain Tim Paine hailed Smith as the best player he has ever seen after the star batsman picked up the man-of-the match award.

 Smith scored 211 and 82 in the game to take his tally for the series to an astonishing 671 runs at an average innings of 134.2, including three hundreds, despite missing England’s one-wicket win in the third Test at Headingley with concussion.

 “I’m not sure I have ever played better,” Smith told Sky Sports. “I have enjoyed my time in the middle. I have come back fresh from a year out, but relaxed and chilled out. I want to be the one in the middle doing my job for the team as I don’t particularly enjoy watching cricket.”

 Paine said: “Steve is the best player I have ever seen. He showed that again in this Test match. He knows the game so well and reads it so well.”

 Australia coach Justin Langer also hailed Smith, who tops the global Test batting rankings after returning from a 12-month ball-tampering ban.

 “We’ve got the best fast bowler in the world (Pat Cummins) and the best Test batsman in the world,” he told Sky Sports.

Agence France-Presse