Sport Cricket Smith hits 215 before Australia’s bowlers fire

Smith hits 215 before Australia’s bowlers fire

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Australia pressed towards a series-levelling Ashes victory on Friday, powered by Steve Smith’s maiden double-century and Mitchell Johnson’s express pace.

Smith heaped further misery on England at Lord’s, scoring 215 as Australia declared one over after tea at 8-566 on day two.

Johnson then made a mockery of those moaning about the quality of the pitch, blasting out Gary Ballance and Joe Root as the hosts collapsed to 4-30.

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By stumps they’d recovered to 4-85 with Alastair Cook on 21, but the England skipper has a long battle ahead if his side are to salvage a draw.

Smith was the catalyst, demoralising England after the hosts offered him a life on 50 when Ian Bell grassed a low catch at second slip.

Smith celebrates his first 200 in Test cricket. Photo: Getty
Smith celebrates his first 200 in Test cricket. Photo: Getty

The 26-year-old broke all manner of records after starting day two on 129.

His 284-run partnership with Chris Rogers, who fell for 173 prior to lunch, was Australia’s highest stand at Lord’s.

It was the first double-ton by an Australian at the venue since 1938, with Smith following Don Bradman and Bill Brown to become the third Australian to achieve the milestone at Lord’s.

Smith was a picture of concentration and class until an ungainly end, when he attempted to reverse-sweep Joe Root and was trapped lbw.

The No.3 batsman reviewed the decision, as the ball almost struck him outside the line, but ball-tracking replays suggested it was ‘umpire’s call’.

It was an unfitting end to a masterclass that lasted eight-and-a half hours.

Smith was dismissed cheaply by Moeen Ali in Australia’s woeful first-Test loss at Cardiff, where he tried to hit the off-spinner out of the attack.

This time around, the right-hander was watchful, and naturally aggressive, rather than overly aggressive.

Smith was instead content to wait for the bad balls.

He played with supreme confidence, striking well-timed boundaries and working the singles like it was centre-wicket practice.

The knock will be construed as a statement to England paceman Stuart Broad and former off-spinner Graeme Swann, who questioned Smith’s technique and capacity to bat at first drop prior to the five-Test series.

Johnson celebrates the crucial wicket of Joe Root. Photo: Getty
Johnson celebrates the crucial wicket of Joe Root. Photo: Getty

Smith will care more about finally passing 200, having been dismissed for 192 at the MCG and 199 at Kingston in an astonishing run of form since December.

Michael Clarke delayed his declaration until after tea, forcing England to spend a 149th over in the field.

Clarke himself looked scratchy in a 32-ball seven, while Adam Voges (25) and Mitchell Marsh (12) also fell cheaply.

Debutant wicket-keeper Peter Nevill looked at home in a breezy 45, though, while Mitchell Johnson fell for 15 in the pursuit of quick runs.

Broad finished with 4-83 off 27 overs and was clearly England’s best bowler.

There was little time to wonder whether Clarke had given his bowlers enough time to take 20 wickets.

Adam Lyth lasted just two balls, with Mitchell Starc finding an edge that Nevill gleefully accepted.

Ballance and Bell were both clean bowled, by Johnson and Josh Hazlewood respectively.

Sheer pace undid Ballance, while Bell played all around a complete jaffer that swung late and was unplayable.

Johnson made it 2-1 from seven balls when Root prodded at a wide ball and feathered an edge to Nevill to leave England in real trouble.

Ben Stokes joined Cook at the crease and hit five fours and one six in an enterprising 38 not out, but England still have an enormous amount of work ahead if they are to even avoid the follow-on.


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