Smith holds up England as test in balance

Tuesday, 06 Aug, 2019

Steve Smith became only the fifth Australian to make two centuries in the same Ashes test as another imperious, near-perfect innings on Sunday put a blunt England attack to the sword and left them on the brink of defeat in the Ashes opener at Edgbaston.

After being 8/122 in the first innings of the match, Australia is now in a strong position requiring only 10 wickets on the final day to win the series opener on the back of a pair of hundreds from Smith.

Smith, who was banned for twelve months after his involvement in a ball-tampering scandal last March, was making a return to Test cricket in the first Ashes game, although he had made a comeback to the Australian team for the ODIs earlier during the World Cup 2019.

He combined with Travis Head (51) for a 130-run partnership, and he continued with Matthew Wade (110) for a 126-run partnership.

"I love playing test cricket and I love playing against England".

Warner walked off to raucous chants of "Same old Aussies, always cheating" from England fans.

Australia spinner Nathan Lyon ripped through England's batting line-up as the hosts lost the first Ashes test by 251 runs after being bowled out for 146 in their second innings on Monday. Cameron Bancroft tamely sent the ball to Jos Buttler at short leg for an easy catch off Moeen Ali for 27-2.

Smith's appetite for runs is such that he is being compared to Australia sporting icon Don Bradman, widely regarded as the greatest-ever Test batsman. The whole team of Australia bundled out after scoring 284 runs in 80.4 overs.

Even a nasty blow on the head on the end of a bouncer from Ben Stokes late on Saturday did little to unnerve the former captain. There is only a 10% chance of rain during the hours of play. This morning all four of them were sensational.

But a ninth-wicket partnership of 65 between Chris Woakes, who made 37 not out on his Warwickshire home ground, and Broad (29) boosted their total.

Cummins and Lyon picked up three wickets apiece, while Siddle and James Pattinson snapped up two wickets each.

Chasing the second highest successful run chase in Ashes history (398), England's day began badly when Rory Burns fell in the second over for 11.

Spinner Moeen Ali, who endured a hard afternoon to finish with 2-130, then bowled Tim Paine for 34, with a flurry of late runs from Pat Cummings and James Pattinson cementing Australia's strong position.

By contrast, new batsman Moeen lasted just five balls before he inexplicably shouldered arms to Lyon (3-112) and was clean bowled for a duck.

Broad had started the ball rolling promisingly when getting David Warner in a tangle, failing to get his bat out of the way of a rising delivery close to his body.