Ashes 2019: Steve Smith frustrates England in Old Trafford Test

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By Stephan Shemilt
BBC Sport in Old Trafford
Steve Smith again had the measure of England’s bowlers to a first day in the fourth Ashes Test at Old Trafford to the Australia side in his own return.
Smith, who missed the third Test notched a eighth Ashes half-century up to finish not out and take the tourists into 170-3.
Australia was decreased to 28-2 after winning the toss, just for Smith to add 116 using Marnus Labuschagne, whose 67 was his fourth successive dent in excess of 50.
After the euphoria of the extraordinary triumph at Headingley of England which levelled the series this was a subdued event, thanks largely to showers that are constant , blustery winds and the bitter cold.
The burst with all the ball, the house attack of bar Stuart Broad struggled to supply a threat, matching the mood of a crowd which could not increase the air over the elements.
The players were not seen for three hours when they went for lunch and dinner, it got too thick to avoid any additional action after a late tea was shot at 17:30 BST even though they managed to play through some rain.
Still, even though only 44 overs were possible, Smith chose Australia into a position when England come to bat 37, on a pitch which looks ideal for batting today, but may be difficult.
An Australia victory would see them retain the Ashes with a Test.
A September Evaluation in Manchester looked vulnerable to the components and that is a day when spectators shivered, players pulled sweaters and rain was not far away.
Even the gusts had debris drifting across the area from the temporary stand and the bails were dismissed in their grooves with such regularity that the umpires simply did without.
If just Smith was easy to blow over. It took a Jofra Archer bouncer to dropped him in the second Test at Lord’s and rule the captain out of the drama in Headingley.
Here he slid returned straight back into judgement the attention and idiosyncrasies that attracted him dozens of 92 and 144, 142 in his three innings in this collection.
Smith and Labuschagne formed a master-and-apprentice venture, the two Australia players that England have not been in a position to control batting jointly for the first time .
Already, it looks like Smith spends at the crease on Friday goes a very long way to deciding the game, albeit with more rain forecast over the next two days.
After verifying that Mitchell Starc had replaced fellow pace bowler James Pattinson in his team, Australia captain Tim Paine took the opportunity to bat on a dry surface.
When Broad’d David Warner caught behind for a duck in the first over – the time – and followed that by Marcus Harris lbw that were trapping, it seemed like England will ride the momentum of Headingley.
They had been denied by Smith and Labuschagne, who slipped effortlessly into the approaches that have brought so much success to them.
Labuschagne looked to score off the front foot in the pace bowlers and cut spinner Jack Leach fell short.
Smith played with fine drives and nudged and nurdled into the leg side, including an while on his knees.
It took a to that which proved to be the close with Travis Head inhabiting a Stokes review for lbw to accompany Smith to bowl Labuschagne, out of Craig Overton.
Broad bowled beautifully on, occasionally and swinging the ball from the left-handers getting it to nip back off the horn.
However, then, the England bowlers were below par, even though they could be slightly excused given the difficult conditions they were having to battle.
There were instances when the fielders were frustrated at the problems with continuous litter and the bail difficulties causing the Australia batsmen to delay proceedings, brought on by the wind.
Still, once the sun was out and the rest calm, Archer was down pace, failing to match the anticipation of his battle when both locked horns for the first time one which brought a roar from the crowd, by Smith.
By bowling brief leach began and Stokes and Overton went more than four runs an over. Under the floodlights, one was left wondering what the duration and motion of this Chris Woakes may have attained.
Overton at least produced the ball that got Labuschagne and Stokes bowled a fiery spell in the close of the day, however, they were rare minutes of penetration.
Former England captain Michael Vaughan on BBC Test Match Special:”What today proved to me is that all the talk of momentum between matches is absolute nonsense. Today, what Australia have performed is nullify Headingley.
“Against both batting units, if it is possible to be consistent out off that stump, things can happen. I wonder whether England will realise that they’ve potentially missed a huge opportunity now.”
England bowler Craig Overton:”It had been rather a frustrating day with the end but it was fine to get the wicket. It is tough in these ailments.
“Steve Smith is the huge one that we want to get. We’ll come back with a positive mindset and try and make him early.”
Australia batsman Marnus Labuschagne:”To really have a loss like that [in Headingley] which was in our grasp was disappointing but how went on the game now we’re here and in the competition. We are really excited to procure the Ashes.”
Ex-Australia bowler Glenn McGrath:”I don’t think England bowled as well as they might have hoped. All these circumstances are constantly more difficult for the fielding side. I didn’t find too many demons in this pitch”
Injured England pace bowler Mark Wood:”On a day such as this, it is difficult to get that strength right up. It really feel like a day altogether. It was a bitty moment.”
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