At stumps on the second day of the fifth Test, England had slumped to 107 for 8 in reply to Australia’s first innings 481 – a deficit of 374 runs.
Friday’s performance saw the visiting bowlers being incredibly accurate in their spells as they choked England’s batsmen for runs and Smith expressed his happiness at the drastic improvement.
“There’s enough there in the wicket if you hit the right spot”. We didn’t bowl well.
As the weather forecast is poor for Monday and Sunday, which is scheduled to be the last two days, whereas Australia’s bowlers have bowled only 40 overs in the series-ending Test it could tempt Clarke to send an opponent back for the first time in Ashes 2015.
Rogers was out edging to Mark Wood for 43, while Adam Lyth held a regulation catch at slip to dismiss Warner.
Smith reached his hundred just before lunch, but this was immediately overshadowed when Moeen Ali had Peter Nevill caught down the leg side and Mitchell Johnson clean-bowled in the space of three balls. Thursday’s innings made Smith the first Australian since Matthew Elliott in 1997 to score more than 500 runs in an Ashes series in England.
He will therefore inherit the captaincy from Michael Clarke with runs behind him, but he was keen to nod in the direction of his outgoing captain and opener Chris Rogers, who is also playing his final Test before retirement. “It was very good day for us, a good toss to lose” Warner told Sky Sports.
It was in marked contrast to Australia’s 60 all out on the first morning of the fourth Test at Nottingham’s Trent Bridge a fortnight earlier.
Australia’s first boundary did not arrive until the 15th over when the normally aggressive Warner – who had faced 45 balls without a four – pulled Ben Stokes through square leg.
Clarke, who is retiring after this match, was given a standing ovation and guard of honour as he came onto the field to replace David Rogers.
“I think sometimes you’ve just got to say, ‘Hats off to them and well played'”.
The captain consulted non-striker Smith and sought a review but there was no denying that Sri Lankan umpire Kumar Dharmasena had made the correct decision.
He resumed on 78 from Australia’s overnight total of 287-3 and had moved to 92 when he slashed at a wide delivery from Finn and edged it to wicketkeeper Buttler.
Two balls later, Smith went down the pitch and drove Ali for six over long-off.
The returning duo Mitchell Marsh and Peter Siddle did the majority of the damage with the ball, finishing day two with figures of 3-18 and 2-18 respectively.