Day 5. 10 Wickets. Rain. 90 Overs. Draw needed. Let’s all pray. If you care about England that is. Australia had the best day of the test and are now in the command seats. A day of tension looks like ensuing, although the weather may well play a role. There is some rain forecast.
Steve Smith became the fifth Australian to make a hundred in each innings of an Ashes test – following Warren Bardsley, Arthur Morris, Steve Waugh and Matthew Hayden (I was there). While the media, the press, the social media and pretty much all of the sentient world has fallen into believing he’s some form of mythical beast that cannot be tamed, Smith has dutifully maintained the rate of average not seen since Bradman, who, of course, had to have short-pitched fast bowling banned to maintain his never-to-be-matched statistics. Smith has had to persuade the world he cannot be dismissed, the Keyser Soze of batting.
His 142 was the equal 106th highest individual score by an Australian in matches against England. His 144 is the 98th equal highest. Both Ponting and Smith have 142 and 144 scores v England, but in the case of Punter, obviously not in the same match. Smith has a 141, 142, 143 and 144 in tests v England – a neat statistical quirk (he has a 138 as well). His was the 315th hundred for Australia against England, his tenth, and Matthew Wade followed soon after with a century of his own. Smith’s is the 16th highest score by an Aussie in the 3rd innings of an Ashes test.
Wade’s hundred ranks 239th equal in high scores for Australia v England. It was the seventh score of 110 by an Australian, bringing him alongside Rodney Marsh in the Centenary Test at Melbourne (the only not out 110), Bill Ponsford (twice), Geoff Marsh (in a losing cause in Brisbane ’86), Marcus North and Chris Rogers (at Chester-le-Street in 2015).
Australia’s innings of 487 for 7 ranks as the seventh highest 3rd innings by Australia in Ashes tests (note this includes Centenary and other assorted match-ups between the teams). The highest this century is the 527/5 butchering the roasted England players endured (as did I) at Perth in 2006. Just the one total above 487 in the third innings has not resulted in a win. This was in a six day test in 1947 at Melbourne, which England started the final day on 91/0 and finished 310/7. The 536 included one of Ray Lindwall’s two test centuries. England’s hero in the fourth innings was Cyril Washbrook, who made 112.
Sing When You’re Winning, You Only Sing When You’re Winning
Shiny Toy Watch
It was Jonathan Liew who said of Robbie Savage “he always have an opinion, and if you hang around long enough, you’ll get one opposite to his original one” (or something like that). We lose if Smith stays in, we draw if we keep left handers away from Lyon (simple).
File this under “only an opinion” as long as it’s mine…
Oh…Greatest Ever Watch
We Read Paul So You Don’t Have To…
The ball pitched outside off-stump, spat off the worn and ultra-dry Edgbaston surface and turned sharply to bowl Tim Paine through the gate. It was the perfect off-spinner’s dismissal but it was the moment that summed up England’s desperate first Test plight.
Even Moeen Ali could barely summon up the energy to celebrate a classic example of his art to dismiss the Australian captain because it was far too little and far too late to stop England facing nothing but a monumental fight for survival at their Birmingham fortress.
If only Moeen had been able to conjure up something similar much, much earlier to the man who has produced one of the great Ashes performances here in Steve Smith, then perhaps this first Ashes episode might have been following a very different script.
Paul’s feeling a bit down…
Any plan for England to capitalise on green pitches in this Ashes with last year’s batch of seaming Dukes balls, just as they did in the 2015 series, has gone up in a puff of dust from an Edgbaston surface that instead has been tailor-made for spin.
It has hardly helped that England have been a bowler down since Jimmy Anderson limped off on the first morning while Chris Woakes was mysteriously restricted to just seven overs as Australia piled on the misery and runs.
There is no mention of Root’s captaincy, and there’s a bizarre claim that Root and Denly both out-bowled Moeen, and some old waffle about Smith and the crowd. It’s a crestfallen piece of what might have been.
How many times are Sky going to focus their cameras on Ed Smith during the day’s play? It’s getting beyond a joke. I saw very little of the play on Sunday, but there he was, on screen, on three occasions. There with his dutiful little helper, James Taylor, sometimes, but in this test, more often with other of the hob-nob top strata. I would like to be notified by anyone watching when he gets on screen on the final day.
Now count the times James Whitaker, Geoff Miller and David Graveney were on the screens during play. The ego has landed alright. FICJAM. About to be shown the futility of his brilliance.
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