Stand-in captain Steve Smith never doubted Australia’s victory in the day-night second Ashes test against England despite Jos Buttler’s dogged resistance, the 32-year-old said after putting his team 2-0 ahead in the five-match series on Monday.
Buttler, who dropped several catches behind the wicket, tried to redeem himself with 26 off 207 balls in a spectacular rearguard spread over more than four hours even though it was not enough in the end.
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“I was not getting nervous just yet,” said Smith, who was put in charge of the team after regular skipper Pat Cummins was ruled out hours before the match for being a close contact of a positive COVID-19 case.
“I thought Jos early on was content to stay at one end. He’d do four balls at one end and get up to the other end. When you get to that point I thought there was enough in the wicket and I was confident.
“I thought he played really well. It’s not the traditional Jos we have seen in the past. His defence was really good. He gave them a bit of a shift there for a while.”
Smith said he only knew how as taking over the captaincy a few hours before the match began on Thursday.
“On day one, there was not a lot of nerves. I only found out about 10 or 11 a.m. I had two missed calls from Pat and a missed message from (head coach) Justin Langer…” Smith said.
“I found out the news that Pat was out for the game and I was going to be captain. It’s been an enjoyable week, hopefully we can keep this momentum going.”
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Smith complimented fast bowler Mitchell Starc and Jhye Richardson, the latter returning after two years out of test cricket through injury.
Richardson added another dimension, Smith said.
“He’s a bit more skiddy than the others. We did bowl a lot fuller than England did, Jhye is a thinker,” he added.
Melbourne hosts the third test from Sunday and Smith ruled out the possibility of taking their foot off the pedal.
“England are a good side and we have not really let them back into the contest yet. That’s how we want to keep it,” said the top order batsman.