Tuesday 17 September 2019

Smith defiance looks ominous for England

Australia's Steve Smith. Photo: Reuters
Australia's Steve Smith. Photo: Reuters

Steve Smith provided a familiar face of resistance as he returned from concussion to lead Australia to 170 for three on a rain-shortened first day at the fourth Ashes Test.

Forced to sit out at Headingley, where England levelled the series in dramatic fashion last time out, the world's number one batsman was well and truly back in the groove at Emirates Old Trafford, defying the home attack with another unbeaten 60.

England's day began promisingly, Stuart Broad seeing off both openers with the new ball, but Smith's stand of 116 with his Leeds stand-in, Marnus Labuschagne, swung things in the tourists' favour.

Craig Overton, recalled for a first appearance in 18 months, eventually bowled Labuschagne for 67 during a blustery afternoon session but Smith's continued presence, having scored 144, 142 and 92 in his three previous knocks, was increasingly ominous as England attempted keep the battle for the urn alive in Manchester.

The inclement conditions allowed for just 44 overs in the day, with stumps finally called at 6.10pm, but that was still enough for Smith to bank another two-and-a-half hours of crease occupation, taking his total across four innings to 13 hours.

For England, that represents an unlucky number that is only heading in one direction.

  • England v Australia, Fourth Test, live, Sky Sports, 11.0

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