It was an exhibition of grit, patience, and incredible skills, which powered Australia's Steve Smith to one of the most remarkable individual performances in modern-day cricket. Smith put behind the demons of ball-tampering scandal to walk off to a standing ovation from the English crowd after his final innings during the 5th Ashes Test, as he scored a mammoth 774 runs in 7 innings - a towering 129 runs/knock.
This is the highest score in a series by an individual since the turn of the century. Brian Lara (778) was the last player to have scored more than Smith in a series in 1994 - 25 years ago. Justifiably, Smith has also kickstarted the comparisons with the great Don Bradman. In merely seven innings this year, the Aussie former captain has also become the highest run-getter in Tests in 2019.
Smith has joined the elite list of batsmen who have crossed the 700-run mark in a Test series more than once. Only 4 other players - Don Bradman, Sunil Gavaskar, Everton Weeks and Gary Sobers have achieved the milestone. This also makes Smith the first batsman in this century to achieve the feat.
In the Ashes, Smith's 774 is the fifth-highest individual score in the series. Bradman (974 runs in the 1930 series), Wally Hammond (905 runs in the 1928/29 series), Mark Taylor (839 runs in the 1989 series) and Don Bradman (810 in the 1936/37 series) make the top-4.
Smith scored three centuries in four Test matches he played in the series, which included a double-ton in Manchester - aiding Australia in retaining the Ashes in England for the first time since 2001.
During the course of the Ashes series, Smith also displaced Indian captain Virat Kohli to regain the no.1 spot in the ICC Test Rankings.
The scores in his seven innings of the series read: 144, 142, 92, 211, 82, 80, 23.
Smith missed the third Test of the series due to a concussion injury during his 92-run knock, when he was hit on the helmet from a bouncer off Jofra Archer.
The Australian batsman made his international comeback in the 2019 World Cup, also hosted in England. Smith scored 379 runs in ten matches of the tournament.