Monday 20 November 2017

Cricket: Smith leads rally to put brittle Aussies on top

Australia's Steven Smith
Australia's Steven Smith

Stephen Brenkley

Australia's batting remains brittle. If and when it improves, England will be in real trouble.

At 143-5 on the opening day of the third Test, Australia were up the creek for the third time in the series, and the Ashes, if not on their way back to England, had been halted in transit on their inexorable journey the other way.

England, however, could not finish off the job and Australia recovered again, this time to 326-6.

The English bowlers went for far too much short stuff, carried away by the pace and bounce; Brad Haddin arrived ready to play to the hilt again; Steve Smith turned up for the first time with a belligerent century -- and Australia got lucky.

Haddin contributed 55 runs following 94 in Brisbane and 118 in Adelaide. As part of a sixth-wicket partnership of 124 with Smith, it came at exactly the right time for Australia.

Before he settled to his task he top-edged a hook and twice saw balls roll dangerously near the stumps. A miscued pull finally ended his vital contribution as he fell to Jimmy Anderson's catch.

Early in the day, the English bowlers mixed up their lengths more judiciously as Australia came hard at them.

The tourists were given what might have been interpreted as lift-off in the series when Anderson effected a stunning run-out in the second over and it was all going well for the tourists.

Shane Watson edged a full-length ball that lifted to slip and when Graeme Swann took two quick wickets, England must have felt that this was a definite shift.

Stuart Broad then bounced out George Bailey, the third of the top six in selection trouble.

And so England thought this was the way to go. They were patently wrong, but they failed to address it.

Australia buzzed along, and the last session and a half belonged to them. (© Independent News Service)

AUSTRALIA V ENGLAND,

LIVE, TOMORROW, SKY SPORTS 2, 2.30AM

Irish Independent

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