Steve Smith scored 286 runs, the most he has ever scored in a Test match.
Steve Smith scored 286 runs, the most he has ever scored in a Test match.

Ashes player ratings: ‘It was the stuff of dreams’

AUSTRALIA has taken the first big step towards winning their first Ashes series on English soil since 2001, thanks primarily to a performance of pure perfection from returning star Steve Smith.

The former Australia captain hit twin centuries to suck the life out of England's attack, who had no answers for his batting brilliance.

From 8-122 midway through day one, it was a remarkable turnaround for a famous Test victory, and alongside Smith's perfect 10 was a reliable support cast - and a handful of players who would prefer to erase their performances from the record books.

 

Cameron Bancroft - 2

 

 

8 and 7

 

Welcome back to Test cricket, Cameron Bancroft. The opener had a tough time of it having been called in to replace Marcus Harris, and looked all at sea in both innings as the England seamers worked him over. There are major question marks over his technique against the moving ball, despite his guts and determination. Delivered on Steve Waugh's pre-game assertion that he's the best short-leg in history by taking four catches for the match.

 

Cameron Bancroft will be looking over his shoulder after an indifferent game.
Cameron Bancroft will be looking over his shoulder after an indifferent game.

 

David Warner - 1

 

 

2 and 8

 

A horror return to Test cricket for Warner following his 12-month ball-tampering ban. Warner should've been out first ball when caught behind off Stuart Broad, but was given not out. It was the last piece of good fortune he would enjoy, falling for two single figure scores in his worst ever Ashes return.

 

 

Usman Khawaja - 6

 

 

13 and 40

 

A frustrating Test for Australia's No.3, who enjoyed starts in both knocks before giving tickles through to the keeper from seaming deliveries. Khawaja looked in good touch in his brisk second-innings 40 which shifted the tempo of the game and took the sting out of the crowd as Australia fought their way back into the contest.

 

 

Steve Smith - 10

 

 

144 and 142

 

What is left to say about Smith's performances in Edgbaston? The 30-year-old had a Test match of his dreams this week, hitting an emotional century in an impossible situation to banish the darkest year of his career - before backing it up to become the first Aussie since Steve Waugh in 1997 to hit twin tons in an Ashes Test in England. The best red-ball batsman on the planet, without question.

 

 

Travis Head - 7

 

 

35 and 51

 

Twice came in with Australia deep in a hole and on both occasions provided the support Steve Smith needed to start the rebuild, making starts in each innings. Careless dismissal having done the grunt work in the second innings shows there's improvement to be had - with Australia demanding centuries from their vice-captain.

 

 

Matthew Wade - 8

 

 

1 and 110

 

An inspired selection to shore up Australia's middle order and he delivered with a crucial second-innings century on a sticky pitch which helped set up Australia's hefty target. It's been a long time coming for Wade, who had almost given up on reviving his time in the Test team but could now, at 31, add to his 23 Tests and three centuries in the twilight of his career.

 

 

Tim Paine - 6

 

 

5 and 34

 

A rough performance behind the stumps on a wicket that was a nightmare for the keepers, but the uneven bounce and sharp turn weren't to blame for his drop of Jason Roy on the final day. Deserves praise for his rotation of the bowlers and the timing of his declaration, which some felt came too late but proved to be bang on. First innings dismissal - caught hooking just before tea on day one - was ugly, but provided important second innings runs.

 

 

James Pattinson - 7

 

 

2-82 and 0-29

 

0 and 47 not out

 

Stared with a bang, bowling express pace with a snarl and snaring his first wicket in three-and-a-half years when he had Jason Roy caught driving. Like every quick in this contest, the big Victorian struggled as the ball softened and ultimately took just the two scalps in his Test return. Had a bit of fun in the second innings, belting four sixes in a valuable cameo.

 

 

Pat Cummins - 8

 

 

3-84 and 4-32

 

5 and 26 not out

 

The world's No.1 Test bowler got it wrong to start England's first innings, bowling too short and too legside. But midway through the middle session on day two he recalibrated and from there he was all over England like a rash, finishing with match figures of 7-116 to cement his place as the leader of the Australian pace attack.

 

 

Peter Siddle - 7

 

 

2-52 and 0-28

 

44

 

A surprise inclusion, to some, Siddle provided one of the most telling impacts on the game with a crucial first-innings 40 to help Steve Smith dig Australia out of trouble. Without those runs, the Test could well be over inside three days - and with Australia facing some serious soul searching. Bowling accurately and economically, Siddle was Australia's most frugal bowler across both innings but chimed in as an attacking threat who made great use of the overhead conditions. Took a ripper of a caught and bowled to dismiss Joe Root.

 

 

Nathan Lyon - 8

 

 

3-112 and 6-49

 

12 not out

 

Set tongues wagging when his first delivery of the series spun sharply back towards Joe Root, but struggled to cash in early on a turning deck. Then took three wickets in a 25-ball span before lunch on day five to tear the guts out of England's middle order and spin Australia to victory with 6-49 . Also continued his utter dominance over Moeen Ali, removing the troubled all-rounder in both innings.