Sydney: Steve Smith, once the butt of the England team`s jokes, had the last laugh as Australia started and finished well in the second Ashes Test, newspapers said on Friday.
England, boosted by Ian Bell`s third hundred in successive Ashes matches, fought back from an early collapse at Lord`s on Thursday.
Yet just when it seemed England had regained control, part-time leg-spinner Smith took three wickets for 18 runs in six overs late in the day to reduce England to 289 for seven at stumps, having been in dire straits at 28 for three.
Australia`s press made much of Smith`s late contribution coming into the attack after the team`s regular bowlers had failed to force home their early advantage.
"England teased Steve Smith during the last Ashes series about being in the Australian team for his jokes. But the home team wasn`t laughing after Smith`s raw leg spin caused a late flurry of wickets at Lord`s," Fairfax Media`s Chloe Saltau said.
"Smith succeeded where the regular bowlers failed, capturing three English scalps including that of Australia`s nemesis, Ian Bell, as England collapsed from 4-271 to 7-289 at stumps."
Saltau said although leg spin was Smith`s second skill nowadays, he could still bamboozle with the ball and was a much-improved cricketer than when he last played against England as an unorthodox-looking batsman.
The Australian`s Wayne Smith mused that "if a bowler not in Australia`s original Ashes squad could star as a batsman in the Trent Bridge Test, why not an initially overlooked batsman as a bowler at Lord`s?"
Australia looked down and out at 117 for nine in last week`s Nottingham Test when left-arm spinner Ashton Agar, a late addition to the touring party, blitzed 98 in a world record last-wicket stand to put them momentarily in front. MORE