Steve Smith struck an imperious double century as Australia took complete control of the fourth Ashes Test against England at Old Trafford.
Smith made 211 – his third century of the series – after a reprieve on 118 when he was caught off a Jack Leach no ball, helping Australia to declare on a formidable 497 for eight.
Tim Paine and Mitchell Starc both weighed in with half-centuries as England toiled in the field. Paceman Jofra Archer went wicketless through the innings.
Faced with the tricky prospect of 10 overs before stumps, England also suffered an early setback in their reply. Joe Denly, newly promoted to the top of the order, was dismissed for just four to leave the hosts 23 for one at the close.
Tweet of the day
Former England captain Michael Vaughan reveals his frustration after Smith is reprieved having been caught off a Leach no ball.
Quote of the day
Smith recalls the moment he thought he had been dismissed before being recalled due to a no ball.
Smith’s 211 took him to 589 runs for the 2019 Ashes, far and away the leading scorer in the series from just four innings. Ben Stokes is the next best with 327 from six innings. He is averaging 147.25 for the series, has faced 906 balls having hit 68 fours and four sixes. He has batted for 1,423 minutes, or more than 23 hours. Ninety-three of those runs came after he was caught off what proved a Leach no ball. It was his 11th Ashes hundred and third double century against England. Sir Don Bradman (18 and eight) is the only Australian with more in either category.
After the rain delays and interruptions because of the wind on day one, day two had barely begun when there was another stoppage – this time for the sun. A TV van parked next to the stand behind the bowler’s arm was reflecting rays into the eyes of the Australian batsmen. Frantic attempts were made to cover the window with a sheet. Later on, a beach ball also interrupted play for a second-successive day.
It proved a long and arduous day in the field for England, and particularly for Archer. Prior to the game the paceman had lived up to much of the hype surrounding his exciting arrival on the Test scene but this was a sobering occasion. He went wicketless throughout the innings for the first time and his figures of nought for 97 were his worst in first-class cricket. His pace was also down on previous outings.
If England could take any crumb of comfort, it was perhaps in Stuart Broad’s continuing success against Australia’s left-handed batsmen. Broad began the day by removing Travis Head lbw, his 12th success against a left-hander out of 17 wickets taken in the series.
Australians may often say English beer is served too warm but it was the cost that bothered travelling cricket journalist Peter Lalor, of The Australian, when he realised he had unwittingly paid almost 100,000 AUD (around £55,000) for a bottle of IPA in his hotel in Manchester. “That is the most expensive beer in history,” he tweeted, before going on to explain how a combination of problems with the credit card machine in the bar and his failure to take his reading glasses with him had led to the problem. He will get a refund but only in nine working days. “In the meantime, there’s a massive hole in my finances,” he said, with rather an understatement.