Thursday 22 August 2019

Smith slams England's defensive tactics

Steve Smith scored the slowest Ashes century by an Australian since 1993. Photo: Getty Images
Steve Smith scored the slowest Ashes century by an Australian since 1993. Photo: Getty Images

Ali Martin

After scoring the 21st and slowest century of his career during the first Ashes Test, Australia captain Steve Smith pointed to the defensive tactics employed by England. The response from Gabba favourite Stuart Broad in the opposition camp? "Perfect".

The meticulous planning of Joe Root during the home side's first innings response in Brisbane had been widely praised during days two and three of the series opener, given that five of the Australian top six fell head first into traps set by the England captain and his bowlers.

Smith was the one that got away, however, with his wonderfully patient 148 not out from 326 balls providing the first standing ovation of the match and setting up a slim 26-run first innings lead for the hosts. Josh Hazlewood's two late strikes then left England effectively 7-2. The 261 balls it took the 28-year-old to reach three figures made it the slowest Ashes century by an Australian since David Boon at Lord's in 1993 and after the close on day three, he offered his thoughts on the suffocating fields that could become a feature of the series.

Smith said: "They were pretty defensive from the outset. It was almost as though they were waiting for our batters to make a mistake. Unfortunately the top four made those mistakes. It felt like it was very defensive. It might be a series where boundaries are hard to come by. But if you bat for long enough, rotate the strike, you'll get bad balls as the bowlers get tired."

Broad, who sent down 10 maidens from his 25 overs for figures of 3-49, said in response to Smith's frustration: "Perfect. We know the Australians like to score quickly. If we can restrict them and stop them scoring a lot of boundaries then we'll have periods of taking wickets."

On Smith's epic rearguard, Broad added: "He played brilliantly and it's what you come to expect from him in Australia. He played with patience, was disciplined around off stump. But also credit to our bowling attack, we didn't let him get away.

"He doesn't seem to get lbw or bowled too much. If you look at the past four years in Australia, he's had one bowled on 170 when trying to hit it out the ground and couple of lbws when it was reversing. The best batsmen don't miss straight balls and the outside edge is his biggest threat.

"If we get a pitch with any sideways movement and more pace it brings the edge into play."

(Observer)

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