Rare air, no ton for Steve Smith at SCG
Rob Forsaith |
Steve Smith has rankled Englishmen and set another record, but Stuart Broad ensured the superstar’s quest for a 12th Ashes ton continues to drag on.
Smith was in the box seat to reach three figures on day two of the fourth Ashes Test at the SCG, marching to 67 without offering a chance.
The introduction of the second new ball, coupled with a precise over from Broad that ended with an edge to keeper Jos Buttler, brought about the right-hander’s downfall.
Broad has now dismissed Smith on nine occasions, more than any other Test bowler.
Smith’s knock of 131 against India a year ago remains his only Test century since a dominant Ashes tour in 2019, when he helped himself to 774 runs despite missing the third Test because of concussion.
Nonetheless, the former skipper’s output on Thursday lifted him into seventh on the list of Australia’s all-time leading Test run-scorers.
Smith, playing his 81st Test, has 7734 career runs and now sits above coach Justin Langer (7696 from 105 Tests) on the list of Australia’s most prolific Test batters.
The achievement is all the more remarkable given Smith was first selected as a frontline legspinner, only beginning his rise and rise as one of the world’s best batters when recalled in 2013.
Smith also grabbed another slice of SCG history, compiling 10 50-plus scores at the ground from 13 Test innings.
No Test batter has ever achieved that feat at a venue in fewer knocks.
There were snippets of his exaggerated movements and mannerisms at the crease, but it was the 32-year-old’s obvious desire to get off the field in light rain that got tongues wagging.
Former England captains Michael Vaughan and Mike Atherton were both critical of Smith, saying he should have waited for the umpires’ decision before making a beeline for the boundary.
“I’ve not been that impressed with Steve Smith’s attempts to run the game,” Atherton said on SEN.
Several English fielders appeared to make a similar point.
Joe Root cycled through Plans A, B and C in his attempt to remove Smith, who faced 141 balls on a pitch that every batter has struggled to score freely on.
Left-arm spin, once regarded as Smith’s weakness because of his struggles against Sri Lanka’s Rangana Herath and Indian Ravindra Jadeja on the subcontinent, did not work.
Jack Leach did not leak as many runs as his expensive start to the series in Brisbane, but the set batter always looked a class above.
A bouncer barrage from Ben Stokes late in the morning session got Smith out of his comfort zone and into awkward positions, but failed to conjure a breakthrough.
But Broad’s seam movement broke Smith and Usman Khawaja’s 115-run stand as they threatened to bat their side into a position of extreme dominance.
MOST TEST RUNS FOR AUSTRALIA
*13378 – Ricky Ponting (168 Tests)
*11174 – Allan Border (156 Tests)
*10927 – Steve Waugh (168 Tests)
*8643 – Michael Clarke (115 Tests)
*8625 – Matthew Hayden (103 Tests)
*8029 – Mark Waugh (128 Tests)
*7734- Steve Smith (playing 81st Test)
*7696 – Justin Langer (105 Tests).AAP