Ashes 2019: The spectacles after the spectacle – Leach and Smith see the funny side

By Sports Desk September 16, 2019

Steve Smith certainly produced some eye-catching performances for Australia during the 2019 Ashes.

The world's top-ranked batsman in the longest format excelled in the five-match series, contributing 774 runs at an average of 110.57, including a double century in the fourth Test.

His fabulous knock of 211 laid the foundations for an Australia victory at Old Trafford – a result that put them 2-1 up in the series and, with just one game left to play, made sure they were certain to retain the urn.

Smith donned a pair of spectacles in the celebrations in Manchester, though the choice of eyewear was not mocking England's glasses-wearing spinner Jack Leach, as was initially thought.

Photographer Ryan Pierse, who captured the moment during Australia's post-match party, tweeted that, rather than poking fun at Leach – a cult hero with England fans after making one not out in the dramatic conclusion to the third Test – the ex-Australia captain was actually referencing former team-mate Chris Rogers.

And there was certainly no ill-feeling between Smith and Leach as they shared a drink after the series finale at The Oval on Sunday, with a picture on Twitter capturing the pair arm in arm while both wearing glasses.

"An all-time great – and Steve Smith," England's official account tweeted, along with a winking face emoji.

"Congratulations on an incredible #Ashes series @stevesmith49. Leachy loves the glasses."

After keeping Ben Stokes company to steer England to an unlikely one-wicket win at Headingley, Leach returned to the pitch after proceedings to recreate the single that had levelled the scores.

So, will Leach and Smith get to see each other again in the next Ashes? We will have to wait until 2021 to find out...
 

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    BALL ONE: WHAT A START!

    When you need so many off so few, an early maximum quickly heaps the pressure back on the bowler. 

    Stokes appears to aim for a yorker but only serves up a half-volley instead, one he's shoved down leg so far that Brathwaite simply has to help the ball on its way, depositing it over the boundary at backward square leg with a flick of the wrists.

    A gift. An absolute gift. Stokes should have sent it down with a bow on. West Indies now need just 13 from five.

    BALL TWO: IT'S UP, UP, UP AND OUTTA HERE!

    Straighter – but still in the slot from Stokes. Brathwaite manoeuvres his front foot out of the way to clear space for the bat to come through and send this one much straighter down the ground – and several metres back into a now delirious crowd inside Eden Gardens.

    Stokes pulls a face in response to suggest he either feels he was not too far off target or he's just eaten something that's way too hot. Either way, he's hurting. The once-taxing equation is now down to a seriously manageable sum of seven from off four. 

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    It's a similar stroke to the last maximum, only this time the right-hander manages to send his home run over long off. There is a brief moment after it departs the bat that you wonder if it is going to clear the fielder, like a golfer who initially fears he's taken the wrong club and could end up in the water. In the end, though, the man in the deep just watches it sail over him.

    West Indies require just one to win and the rest of the squad are now off their feet out of the dugout and ready to start celebrating. 

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    Forget knocking it into a gap to pinch a single. Brathwaite winds up again as he gets another ball on his pads, allowing him to finish the job in style.

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    "Carlos Brathwaite ​– remember the name!" Ian Bishop booms on commentary. Few who have witnessed it – whether live at the ground or on television – will forget it, least of all poor Stokes.

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