AAP Other sport

Smith vows to improve after superb Ashes

By AAP Newswire

After four and a half months of boos and barbs, Steve Smith finally received the reception he deserved then vowed to improve as a superb series finished on a subdued note at the Oval.

Much like Australia's Ashes campaign, which ended with a 135-run loss and drawn series, Smith saved his worst for last.

Australia's best batsman since Don Bradman was out clipping a ball from Stuart Broad to Ben Stokes at leg gully for 23, his lowest Test score for Australia since the Cape Town crisis erupted.

The upside for Smith, as he joked to teammates after regaining composure in the rooms, was that bowlers and captains will now believe that a leg-side trap is the best method to dismiss him.

The downside for the world's top-ranked batsman is there was no bittersweet century; Smith has celebrated 26 Test tons but hasn't reach three figures in the fourth innings of a Test.

Yet nothing could take the shine off the right-hander's remarkable series, in which he has smashed records while helping himself to 774 runs at 110.57.

The superstar walked off to a reception befitting a once-in-a-generation player, with Australian and English fans in the crowd rising to their feet in appreciation at Smith's most prolific series ever.

Smith, the only realistic choice for man of the series, was jeered and condemned as a cheat from the moment he set foot in England for the World Cup in May.

That the 30-year-old, who was even booed by some fans at Lord's when he returned after retiring hurt because of a bouncer blow to the neck, has won over locals says plenty.

"It was a nice reception when I walked off," Smith said.

"I have given it my all while I have been here.

"I didn't have much more to give today. I was pretty cooked mentally and physically. I am looking forward to a couple of weeks off and heading back for the Australian summer.

"It was a long 18 months and I have a lot of people to thank."

Smith, who singled out wife Dani for her support during a year-long suspension, is yet to mull over his achievement.

"I am sure over the next couple of weeks I will look back and reflect. I am proud of my performances ... and to take the urn back home. That was the goal," he said.

"The first innings was my favourite ... it gave me the confidence to know I could slot straight back in.

"You always want to get better. I'll continue to work hard."

There was a sense of disbelief as Smith logged his lowest score of the series, snapping a world-record streak of 10 consecutive 50-plus scores against England.

England captain Joe Root conceded it had been Smith's Ashes.

"He's been a pain, really. He's played extremely well, he's the No.1 batter in the world for a reason," Root said.

"In difficult conditions, he's stood up and done something very special and been the difference really."