Australia skipper Tim Paine said it was a massive achievement to retain the Ashes urn and it felt great to have fulfilled their primary objective. Australia lost the fifth and final Ashes Test against England by 135 runs.
The visitors were eyeing their first series win in England since 2001, but in the end, drew the series 2-2 on Sunday.
“We’re taking the urn home so that’s certainly what we came to do,” Paine told the reports after the conclusion of the series. “We’re thrilled by that, a little disappointed by this game obviously, puts a bit of a dampener on it.”
“We can be really proud of the way we’ve come over here, which is a challenging place for Australians to come and play and win,” the wicketkeeper-batsman added. “To win two Test matches pretty convincingly. We should have won a third (at Headingley) — we let that slip no doubt.”
Paine said the clinical victory at Edgbaston, where Australia crushed England by 251 runs in the first Test, gave his side immense belief.
“There was so much talk about that being a fortress and how difficult a place it was going to be for us to start the series, probably by design, so for us to come over and win that first Test, and win it, in the end, quite convincingly gave us the belief that we could do it.”
The Aussie captain also felt that he still had quite a bit to contribute towards the improvement of the team.
“We’ve still got a way to go. Obviously Steve (Smith) had an unbelievably good series and won us a couple of Tests by himself so we’ve got some parts that we need to improve,” he said.
“But if we click them into gear while we’ve got Steve at the height of his powers and with the pace attack we’ve got, in the next few years we’re going to be a very hard team to beat.”
“There’s plenty of improvement in this side. I still feel I’ve got a little bit to give in that space and we’re always trying to develop more leaders within our group as well.”
Steve Smith, who amassed 774 runs from just seven innings, said he was tired after a hectic season of cricket, which also included the World Cup.
The former skipper, who came back to international cricket with a bang in June after the ball-tampering ban, got a standing ovation from the crowd at The Oval.
“It was a nice reception as I walked off,” the superstar batsman said. “It would have been nice if I’d had a few more runs under my belt in this game. I’ve given it my all since I’ve been here for the last four-and-a-half-months in every Test match that we’ve played and I didn’t have much left to give today.”
“I’m pretty cooked to be honest, mentally and physically. I’m looking forward to a nice couple of weeks’ rest now before getting into the Australian summer,” he signed off.