England had the opportunity to take the initiative in the test, and try and bring the series back into a playable position. Did they take it? What do you think. Oh dear, look away now England fans………
The day started out with Anderson and Broad opening to Shaun Marsh and Khawaja. The follow on was avoided early on with an easy Smith single, setting the tone for the day really. The opening spell from the England openers caused no trouble for Marsh and Smith who swatted the ball away with ease. Woakes then got a crack at the Aussie skipper and his partner, to no avail, bowling in those same areas that he had no success with in the first test. It really surprised me that England have gone back to the tactic of bowling short with width to Smith, instead of finding that line on his off stump that he can be unravelled by.
It wasn’t too long before Smith played his way to yet another classy hundred. I don’t know if it’s too early to really start calling him one of the best in test history but his stats are absolutely ridiculous, especially considering that he is just 28. The only real trouble he has suffered has been from the hand of Craig Overton, who despite sustaining a hairline rib fracture, bowled really well to Smith, really threatening him by finding that line around the off stump, which he really struggles with. Marsh did not have these problems with Overton however, easily working the ball off his legs for a couple of boundaries. The 50 partnership was brought up mostly by Smith, as Marsh was still batting with a lot of composure.
Smith continued to frustrate me and the England fans by accumulating runs at an inhumane rate. I mean, we have at least 3 more ashes series from the guy. Not fair at all, he’s just too good. Moeen Ali then came on to bowl and hold on……wait a minute……. QUICK EVERYONE LOOK, HE’S MADE ANOTHER CONTRIBUTION TO THE SERIES. Thank god! Don’t get me wrong, he is a top player, but he has done Marsh with a beauty on that driving length, tempting the shot from Marsh who edged it straight to Root at slip. Finally, another breakthrough.
Shaun Marsh’s demise at 28 led to his brother Mitchell being sent to the crease on his return to the side, replacing Handscomb. And his batting performance was as good as his bowling was bad. Annoying because he got absolutely carted by Malan and Bairstow. Overton continued to trouble Smith however catching him on the arm, finding the already enormous cracks in the pitch. If I had a penny for every time and England captain seemed to absolutely give up in an ashes test I would build my own Optus stadium. Root took the new ball late, after bowling anderson just 3 or 4 overs before taking it, while setting a defensive field, not putting any pressure on the new man Mitch Marsh who needed runs. Surely if you were an England bowler, it would frustrate the hell out of you watching every aspect you need as a bowler to a new batsman taken away.
After taking the new ball Anderson found out how powerful the bat of Marsh can be. I’m not sure what is in his willow but he absolutely smacks the ball around the park when he gets comfortable, making a sound similar to a sniper’s shot. I’m pretty sure Ben Stokes could have heard some of his shots from New Zealand. Intense sighing from myself followed with Broad finding a line to Marsh before dropping the ball in short immediately after. Anderson did however have a strong appeal which was reviewed, but the ball was going down leg. It seemed like an extremely desperate appeal really.
Australia brought up the 300 with a Woakes over that got absolutely dispatched by Marsh for fourteen runs and with 6 wickets in hand, the hosts ended the session just 89 runs behind. Oh dear, start the car. After the break it was like nothing had happened. Smith carried on sending the England bowlers. Not sure if I can actually call England’s bowling an attack really. Absolutely poor showing from Broad in particular. 150 came up for Smith who was still just absolutely flawless in his nerve and concentration. Barely a single poor shot all innings, and yet again, he is just taking the game away from England, as he did in the first innings at the Gabba.
Marsh reached his 50 after slapping the sting out of the England attack. It was not nearly as confident as Smith’s first 50 runs, but he showed that he can hit anything that is offered up to him. Unfortunately for England, that is all they did. Root’s only variation to try and break the pair was to just stick Overton back on. Well done that lad for bowling so many overs while injured. Anderson came back on, almost immediately getting Smith, with England reviewing a huge LBW shout. Unfortunately it was a no ball, with the impacts being umpire’s call and missing. The review was retained, but frustrating none-the-less. More of the onslaught followed, with the only solace for England coming in the form of three or four Smith edges that bounced short of the slips, before Marsh brought up his hundred with so many more of those booming shots. You would think he bats with a canon. That combined with the outfield here equals big and quick runs.
The sides went in for tea with Marsh on 100, and Smith on 182. May as well give up now lads. Moeen and Overton continued the England bowling after the break with Ali looking awful and Overton looking flat out knackered. If you don’t trust your openers to take wickets, then just give up. A tactic that Root seems to have taken to heart. The 200 partnership got brought up, and the shots being played were just beautiful. As difficult as it was to watch as a proud Englishman, there is just some batting which you need to appreciate.
Root brought himself on and i wondered why it took so long. He loves to take a wicket immediately after coming on. The only real highlight in between the long-hops and smack-able delivers, was Karma for his poor captaincy in the form of the ball popping up through his hands and into where you wouldn’t want a ball popping up into.
Smith brought up his 200, mocking England with his superlative batting performance. What a player. More abuse of the England bowlers brought up Marsh’s 150. Please, Woakes, Jimmy, Broady, someone just take a wicket. England were truly out of options as Malan was sent on to bowl. The Aussie fans started their own conga line around the ground, with the Barmy Army being resilient in drinking and spirit. I regretted my earlier criticism of Malan though! He managed to create the first real chances in 6 hours! Just shows how poor the rest of the team were.
At the end of the day Australia had amassed 354 runs for just one wicket. Not much more to say that hasn’t been said. I think it’s fairly easy to say it was Australia’s day. Overton and Malan offered the only threat for England. Well done Marsh and Smith, wouldn’t be surprised if they go out and break records tomorrow morning with rain predicted. “They think it’s all over……”