Ashes 2019: Steve Smith hits third ton of series on day two at Old Trafford

Steve Smith scored his third century of this Ashes series as Australia reached 245-5 at lunch on day two of the fourth Test at Old Trafford.


For all that England’s bowlers were much improved on their efforts from the first day, showing far greater intensity and purpose, they were unable to oust Smith and the former Australia skipper completed his 26th Test hundred late in the morning session.

There was some success for England as Stuart Broad removed Travis Head early on before Jack Leach dismissed Matthew Wade, but Smith remained and will be the key figure as Australia aim to post a commanding first-innings total.

The tourists started the day on 170-3 but Smith, resuming on 60, was unusually scratchy in the early exchanges, prodding at deliveries in the channel outside off and then hitting a low full toss back at Jofra Archer, who could only get his fingertips to it as he tried to take the return catch.

Head saw little of the strike and when he did, it did not take long for Broad to send him on his way, attacking from around the wicket as he has done so successfully to the left-handers throughout the series and trapping him lbw.

Archer was beginning to crank up the pace as well, topping 90mph for the first time in the match, but Smith had overcome his initial jitters and held firm and when the players returned following a brief stoppage for rain, the fast bowler was replaced at the James Anderson End.

The breakthrough came from the other end, though, as Wade tried to take on Leach and, having hit the left-arm spinner over wide mid-on for four just before the delay, attempted to repeat the trick. However, he failed to get to the pitch of the ball and sent it high into the gloomy Manchester sky with Joe Root underneath it at mid-on as it came back down.

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Smith, with skipper Tim Paine for company, moved into the nineties and after a couple of slightly nervy moments against Leach, he whipped the ball into the legside for two off Craig Overton to reach yet another century five minutes before lunch.

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