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Paine calls Smith the 'best player' he has ever seen
The Ashes 2019

Paine calls Smith the 'best player' he has ever seen

Tim Paine described Steve Smith as the best player he has ever seen after Australia sealed the Ashes series courtesy of the star batsman's splendid match-winning performance in Manchester.

Smith was the difference between the two sides as his double century in the first innings powered Australia to a towering total of 497-8 declared.

This enabled the tourists to establish a hefty lead that eventually proved too large for England to overcome despite late-order resistance on the final day.

England, set a huge target of 383 to keep the Ashes alive, faltered in their task of batting out the last day to salvage a draw and were dismissed for 197 putting Australia 2-1 up in the series.

Smith also led Australia's batting charge in the second innings when he rescued his side from a spot of bother reeling at 44-4 on the fourth day.

His rapid 82 grew the Australia lead while Matthew Wade ably supported him on the other end.

In his first Test series following the expiry of his 12-month ball-tampering ban Smith has scored an astronomical sum of 671 runs in three games across the series.

"I'm not sure I have ever played better," he told Sky Sports. "I have enjoyed my time in the middle. 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."

Praising his stupendous batting displays at Old Trafford, Australia skipper Paine 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 felt Smith was on another level as compared to Virat Kohli, who closely trails the former captain on the No. 2 position in the Test rankings for batsmen.

"We've got the best fast bowler in the world (Pat Cummins) and the best Test batsman in the world," Langer said.

"I thought Virat Kohli was the best batsman I've ever seen because of the way he plays in all forms, but Steve Smith... That's another level.

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