Steve Smith helped himself to an imperious double century as his domination of England’s bowlers scaled new heights on day two of the fourth Ashes Test.
Smith made 211 as Australia declared on 497 for eight at Old Trafford, effectively batting a home win off the agenda – although any such predictions now come with an asterisk after Ben Stokes’ heroics at Headingley.
Smith missed that match with a concussion but remains the dominant figure in the series having scored 144, 142 and 92 in his three previous knocks – totting up a combined 23.7 hours and 906 balls at the crease.
Faced with the prospect of 10 overs before stumps England reached 23 for one – Joe Denly’s return to opener yielding just four runs before he turned Pat Cummins to short-leg, where Matthew Wade held one-handed at the second attempt.
England will be ruing their own handiwork – Jofra Archer missing a caught-and-bowled chance from Smith in the second over of the day – while spinner Jack Leach will have nightmares about the front foot no-ball that reprieved the right-hander when he edged to slip on 118.
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He shelved any notion that the 92mph blow to the neck which forced his absence in Leeds would negatively impact his output and he now boasts 26 Test hundreds, 11 of which have come in the Ashes and three of which have been converted into doubles.
Much of the pre-match hype had focused on the resumption of Smith’s battle with Archer but while the former was left toasting another wonderful achievement, the paceman left the field wicketless for the first time in Test cricket and with his worst first-class figures of nought for 97.
Joe Root was Smith’s unlikely downfall, reverse-sweeping one of the England’s captain’s occasional leg-breaks to short third man after 319 balls in the middle.
England’s poor day in the field also saw Tim Paine dropped twice on his way to 58, while their talisman, Stokes, did not bowl again after receiving treatment for shoulder pain midway through his 11th over.News Now - Sport News