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Rob Key: Langer’s a numpty, Steve Smith is the reason for Australia’s Ashes dominance

by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

Sky Sports Cricket pundit Rob Key has said that Justin Langer’s principles of elite honesty and mateship have had little to do with Australia’s recent Ashes dominance, citing the form of Steve Smith as close to being the sole factor.

Australia won the 2017/18 Ashes at home before retaining the Ashes last year, the first time they have done so in England since 2001. The former triumph was achieved under head coach Darren Lehmann, who left his role in the fallout from the Cape Town ball-tampering scandal in 2018.

Langer, Lehmann’s successor, has put many virtues, such as honesty, humility, and mateship at the forefront of the philosophy he has tried to instil in the team, but Key, who picked Smith for his Test World XI of the last 15 years in an episode of the Sky Sports Cricket Podcast, felt that those values had little to do with Australia’s success.

“My No.5, Steve Smith,” Key said. “You can watch Langer behaving like a numpty on that The Test documentary, and going on about elite honesty and elite mateship and all of this, but let’s get it right: Steve Smith has won the last two Ashes series, or alright, they tied, so he’s retained the Ashes and he’s won the Ashes for that Australian team.”

Smith made a combined 1,431 runs at an average of 119.25 across the two series. David Warner was Australia’s next highest run scorer, with 536 runs at 31.52.

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