'It has been a tough 24 hours': Smith to sleep easy after win

A restless Steve Smith admitted he had to take a sleeping tablet on the night before the final day of the second Test but he need not have worried in the end as Australia finished off England ruthlessly to take a 2-0 lead into next week's third match of the series in Perth.

The Ashes could now be Australia's again within a fortnight but the Australian captain was relieved to leave Adelaide Oval with the win after enduring a difficult time since his much-debated decision not to enforce the follow-on on the third evening. Smith had a shocker with the Decision Review System, getting out cheaply in the second innings and dropping a catch as the window opened for England to come back from oblivion and pull off a record-breaking run chase.

Ultimately, his world-class bowling attack, led by an inspired and express Josh Hazlewood, shut down that possibility promptly to complete a 120-run victory but Smith conceded that nerves about the situation Australia found themselves in were playing on his mind on Tuesday night.

"I had to have a sleeping pill last night," Smith said after the match on Wednesday. "It has been a tough 24 hours if I'm being honest. It's all part of being captain of your country. You have to make difficult decisions. Sometimes you're going to make the wrong decision. It's all part of the learning experience and hopefully I can learn something from this game."

Smith said he could "breathe more easy" after Hazlewood knocked over England captain Joe Root with his 11th ball of the afternoon's play and from there the visitors folded, adding only 57 more runs as they lost their last six wickets to be all out for 233 before tea.

The result was emphatic but there had been second thoughts about his heavily scrutinised decision to bat again, rather than send England back in under lights with a lead of 215.

"I would say that over the last day or so I have had a few different thoughts and I've read a lot of things. But in the end we've won the game so it's all irrelevant," Smith said.

"Would I do the same again? I'm not sure. It's played on my mind a bit over the last couple of days - have I made a mistake?

"My rationale was it's a really long summer and I don't want to bowl my bowlers into the ground. On another day I might decide to go another way, but we've won the Test match, so it's irrelevant."

Australia's sub-par batting on day four in being rolled for 138 had contributed to England being given a glimmer of hope but the way in which Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins dismantled the tourists within a session on Wednesday indicates it will be very hard for Root's side to recover in this series.

While Smith agreed Australia could improve after their batting failure on Tuesday, one conclusion Smith didn't accept was that he was rattled by England's sledging of him in Australia's second innings. Root described the in-roads that England had made against him as "promising" but Smith refuted James Anderson's contention that the visitors' approach had got under his skin.

"I think the opposite," Smith said. "I think they actually switched me on. It was when they stopped talking to me I might have lost concentration. I actually enjoyed it ... it got me in my little bubble. It got me going.

"They can think what they like but from my point of view it actually made me focus."

The tension between the two sides continued in Adelaide after a fiery opening to the series in Brisbane and there were several notable on-field confrontations and verbal exchanges. However, while England had been unhappy about Australia's sledging at the Gabba there were no complaints here as both sets of players gave as good as they got.

"I don't think it ever went too far," Root said. "Both side are desperate to win and desperate to do their country proud. That was just expressed out on the field."

This story 'It has been a tough 24 hours': Smith to sleep easy after win first appeared on The Age.