Ashes 2013: Talking points as Australia’s Smith scores maiden Test ton

Ashes 2013: Guy Clarke looks at the talking points from day two as Australia's Steve Smith hits his first Test century

By Guy Clarke

Smith hits his first Test century

Much like Shane Watson on day one, Steve Smith carried the Australian batting line-up as those around him were unable to get past 33. Smith picked up from where he left off on Wednesday, starting on 66 before getting to his maiden Test century shortly before tea. The ton came off 198 balls, with the all-rounder hitting 14 fours and two sixes – the second of those bringing up his century as he hit the ball back over Jonathan Trott. Smith wasn’t done there though, going on to post a career-best 138 not out before captain Michael Clarke decided to declare on 492-9 shortly after Ryan Harris went for 33, putting England into bat for the final 17 and a half overs of the day. Whilst Watson’s career-best 176 gave Australia stability after the top order went cheaply, Smith’s 138 made Australia’s score competitive and gives the Aussies a glimmer of hope if the bowlers are able to tear into their hosts from the off-set on Friday after openers Alastair Cook and Joe Root closed on 32 without loss.

Kerrigan left out of the bowling attack

Simon Kerrigan was omitted from the bowling attack by Cook after his nightmare on the first day’s play, going for 53 runs off just eight overs. It was back to experience for England with James Anderson the man to make an early breakthrough as the hosts hoped for an Australian middle-order collapse. The wicket came just five overs into play as he bowled the Aussies’ night-watchman Peter Siddle (23) but was not to be the catalyst for a collapse. Kerrigan’s fellow debutant, Chris Woakes, was given another chance with the ball and was finally able to claim his first Test wicket, with Trott catching James Faulkner deep on the boundary. Trott was also given a rare opportunity to bowl, with the number three batsman taking the wicket of Brad Haddin before tea. 31-year-old Anderson, though, was England’s key man and rediscovered some form after only taking four wickets in the previous two matches, posting figures of 4-95. Whereas Kerrigan was omitted from the attack, England’s other spinner Graeme Swann was involved, making an immediate impact after tea as he bowled Mitchell Starc for 13 off just eight deliveries, with just his second ball adding to the wicket of Chris Rogers on day one.

Australia not hanging around

With the rain delaying the start of play until 2.30pm, it is clear that Australia will have to do something pretty special in order to get a win in the series. The Aussies seem determined to do so as they bid to travel back Down Under win a Test win ahead of the return Ashes series in Australia in the winter. Smith’s performance with the bat gave Australia something to build on as they started the day on 307-4, and once the 24-year-old had surpassed his own personal milestone of 100, the tourists captain Clarke was keen for Australia to get as close to 500 as possible before putting the hosts into bat. If the visitors are to win this Test, they will have to do remarkably well with the ball on day three after failing to take a wicket in the 17.3 overs they bowled at England before the close of play, with yet further more rain forecast for Saturday.

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