After wiping away tears of joy at capturing the urn, Steve Smith wants an Ashes whitewash to mark his Australian team as among the best ever.
Smith’s Australians reclaimed the Ashes on Monday by crushing England by an innings and 41 runs in the third Test in Perth.
Australia ruthlessly took an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-match series – it needed just one session to roll the hapless tourists for 218 and reclaim the Ashes.
Smith, who also celebrated a career highlight with his Test-best score of 239 at the WACA Ground, then set his sights on a rare 5-0 series triumph.
Only three Australian teams – in 1920/21, 2006/07 and 2013/14 – have achieved the 5-0 feat.
“I would love to do that,” said Smith, who admitted crying in the WACA dressing room when his emotions tipped over.
“I was part of the series back in 2013/14 when we did that and it was an amazing part of my life and everyone else’s that was involved as well.
“We’ll just take it one step at a time at the moment – and first of all enjoy the success we’ve had over the last couple of weeks.”
Leaky WACA covers a shame
The Australians bowled England out for 218 in its second innings after play resumed three hours late because overnight rain seeped through the covers and soaked an area of the pitch.
The leakage threatened to ruin the hosts’ hopes of claiming the Ashes on Monday – and help England stay alive in the series.
Smith joked that he had looked at the rain forecast on about 35 different websites the night before day five.
“I think it was a shame that some water was able to get through the covers in the first place at an international venue,” Smith said.
“That was a shame to start the day.
“But I feel that the umpires made the right call at the time to get us back on and play the game. The whole thing basically dried out and it was hard.”
England captain Joe Root tried his best to convince the umpires that the pitch wasn’t fit to play on.
But after the match, Root said the umpires had followed the procedures correctly, and made the right call to let play resume at 1pm.
“The pitch didn’t really, from those spots, didn’t really misbehave or become dangerous,” Root said.
“So I think credit has to go to the umpires for making the right call when to start the game. They gave it opportunity to dry out.
“It’s a very difficult one because they’re in a position where there is obviously a lot of pressure to get the game going.
“And at the same time you have got to make sure that the safety of the players is paramount. And fair play, I think they got it right.”
Paceman Josh Hazlewood then ripped through England’s middle and lower order, finishing with 5-48.
It capped a remarkable turnaround given England was 4-368 in its first innings after winning the toss.
Australian skipper Smith and Mitch Marsh (181) produced a 301-run stand that turned the Test on its head.
“Obviously an Ashes series is huge for Australian cricketers and English cricketers and there is always that added pressure,” Smith said.
“It was my first Ashes series as captain (and) I wanted to make my mark and do something really special.
“What the boys have done over the last couple of weeks has been special.”
The series continues on Boxing Day at the MCG with the final Test in Sydney from January 4.