Adaptable skipper Smith the Ashes bane of England
Melbourne: Steve Smith says he has been adapting his quirky batting to keep ahead of England's bowlers and is working on getting even better after a stellar Ashes series.
The Australia skipper has dominated England's bowlers so far, amassing 604 runs in six innings at an astonishing average of 151.
He again proved the bane of England when he batted out the entire last day to secure a draw in the fourth Test, denying the tourists — who have lost the first three Tests and the Ashes — a face-saving win. Smith has shown immense levels of concentration and application, facing a total of 1,258 balls for his two unbeaten centuries in Brisbane and Melbourne, and his Test- best 239 in Perth.
"I've had to work really hard but I feel like my game's in really good order," Smith said.
"I'm adapting to each of the bowlers, I'm changing my plans to them and how they're trying to get me out," he added.
"Hopefully, I can just keep working and keep getting better as well." Smith's career Test average of 63.55 is second only to the legendary Don Bradman's pinnacle 99.94, and he again emulated another record of "The Don" with a fourth consecutive century in a Melbourne Test match.
"I think playing this game you can never be satisfied and think you're too good for the game or anything, the game can come back to bite you pretty quickly," the Australia captain said.
"I just love batting ... I feel like I'm hitting the ball really well at the moment and hopefully I can end the series really well in Sydney as well." England opener Alastair Cook, who was man-of-the-match in Melbourne with his marathon unbeaten 244, said Smith has set a "new benchmark".
"Probably, when we first saw him, we didn't think he'd turn out to be the player he's become but you have to give him a lot of credit for the way he's obviously worked out his game," Cook said.
England captain Joe Root said his team had to keep believing they can get Smith out. "Fair play to him and he played extremely well," Root said. "Even when it is a bat-friendly pitch like that, he was under the pressure of knowing he would have to bat all day to try and get a draw and that is quite difficult."
Root said England would look to next week's final Sydney Test to have the last word on Smith in the series.