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The Ashes: Paine hails Smith after Australia retain 'the urn'

media Tim Paine (left) took over as Australia captain when Steve Smith (right) was serving a suspension. AFP/Oli Scarff

Australia captain Tim Paine anointed Steve Smith as the best player he has seen after the former skipper collected the man-of-the match award following Australia's victory in the fourth Test against England at Old Trafford on Sunday.

England were given a victory target of 383 runs but were bowled out for 197.

The host's defeat put Australia 2-1 up in the five-Test series and allowed them to retain the Ashes urn.

Smith, who was banned from international cricket for a year for his part in a ball-tampering plot, scored 211 and 82 in the game to take his tally in his six trips to the crease to 671.

"I'm not sure I have ever played better," Smith told Sky Sports. "I have come back fresh from a year out, but relaxed and chilled out. I want to be the one in the middle doing my job for the team as I don't particularly enjoy watching cricket."

Paine, who took over during Smith's absence from the Australia team, said: "Steve is the best player I have ever seen. He showed that again in this Test match. He knows the game so well and reads it so well."

Australia coach Justin Langer also paid tribute to Smith, who tops the global Test batting rankings.

"We've got the best fast bowler in the world in Pat Cummins and the best Test batsman in the world," he told Sky Sports.

"Steve's a great problem-solver. His hunger for the game ... I've never seen anything like it."


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