PERTH, (Reuters) – A ruthless trio of pacemen and the medical men propping them up were key to Australia’s Ashes triumph, captain Steve Smith said on Sunday, after his team won back the urn with a dominant win at the WACA.
Australia thrashed England by an innings and 41 runs before tea on day five of the third test, taking an unassailable 3-0 lead in the series.
Josh Hazlewood took 5-48, with fellow seamers Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc sharing three wickets as England were routed for 218 in their second innings on a cracked-up pitch.
Australia’s pace dominance was underlined by England’s struggles, the tourists’ four quicks all conceding over 100 runs as Smith’s side declared at a mammoth 662 for nine on day four.
“I think here in Australia (the extra pace) certainly makes a difference on the flatter tracks where there isn’t much sideways movement,” Smith told reporters, having won a second Man-of-the-Match award in the series for his brilliant 239.
“That extra air speed can make a big difference and we’ve worked really hard to ensure that we had these three big quicks on the park and ready for this series.
“A couple of them skipped the one-day series in India (in October) and we knew what was coming up.
“We were preparing for this series and we wanted those big three on the park to do what they’ve done the last three test matches.”
Australia have battled to keep their pacemen fit, with Cummins waiting six years to play his second test in India earlier this year after a string of back injuries following his 2011 debut away to South Africa.
Pace spearhead Starc has also missed plenty of cricket with a succession of foot injuries, while Hazlewood came into the series with limited match preparation after suffering a side strain.
Starc carried a heel injury at the WACA, but captured the key wicket of England number three James Vince for 55 on day four with a brilliant, unplayable delivery that clattered into the stumps.
“Fortunately they’ve been on the park for a little while now,” said Smith.
“So I’ve got a new-found respect for the bowlers, the work that they do off the park: the weights, the rehab, the fitness.
“Everything that they do to get themselves right to play test match cricket and bowl at that pace consistently — it’s an incredible effort.”
Smith also praised Australia’s selectors, who were criticised for the left-field recalls of wicketkeeper Tim Paine for his first test in seven years and much-maligned batsman Shaun Marsh.
Marsh was Man-of-the-Match for his unbeaten century in the second test in Adelaide, with Paine also performing well with the gloves and the bat in the second and third tests.
“A lot of people came out and said that they were some very bold decisions at the start of the series and the selectors get criticised quite a lot,” said Smith.
“But I think they’ve done a terrific job with the squad that we’ve picked at the start and everyone that’s come in has done an exceptional job so a lot of credit has got to go to the selectors.”