Sunday 18 November 2018

Smith's nerves needless as Aussie bowlers send message


Australia's Steve Smith celebrates victory during day five of the Ashes Test match at the Adelaide Oval,. Photo: Jason O'Brien/PA
Australia's Steve Smith celebrates victory during day five of the Ashes Test match at the Adelaide Oval,. Photo: Jason O'Brien/PA

Paul Hayward

The last time England won in Perth, they beat a team of Australian pub-quiz questions.

Rick Darling, John Maclean and Alan Hurst were among the victims in a Kerry Packer-denuded side.

Thirty-nine years later, the Ashes hosts are more "no mercy" than "no name".

With alarming accuracy, and sobering intent, Australia's bowling attack made a mockery of England's hopes of chasing down 354 runs to win the second Test.

Steve Smith, Australia's captain, took a sleeping pill the night before to ease his nerves, but Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon were wide awake to the challenge on this short fifth day in Adelaide.

Under a glistening sky, they blew away six English batsmen for 56 runs with bowling of exquisitely measured length.

No wonder Smith was so pleased with "Josh, Gazza and Paddy".

England now need to win two of the last three Tests and draw the other to retain the urn. They must do so against a side superior in both major respects.

Smith's men have struck the two biggest totals of the series - 328 and 442 for eight declared - and are more destructive with the ball in pace and spin.

Australia have won in Brisbane and Adelaide by 10 wickets and 120 runs, respectively.

"It's always tough coming back from 2-0 down, especially when you're away from home," Smith said.


"You can be only one or two bad sessions away from losing the series. I think that can play on people's minds."

From that, you may conclude a series defeat is hurtling down the track for Joe Root's team, even if Smith made life harder for his side with his hapless DRS strategy and only 40 and six runs with the bat.

Do not try telling him, though, that he lost the sledging to Stuart Broad and James Anderson.

"I think the opposite," Smith said, after England had been wiped for 233.

"I think they actually switched me on. I think it was when they stopped talking to me that I might have lost concentration. I actually enjoyed it."

"It made me really focused. It got me in my bubble, and I had my little idiosyncrasies about myself. It got me going. They can think what they like, but from my point of view, it made me focus."

A combined 199,147 spectators watched this Test. Few will have left this beautiful ground eager to bet on Australia's bowlers falling apart in Perth. (© The Daily Telegraph, London)

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