75th over: Australia 248-4 (Smith 115, M Marsh 0) Mitch Marsh replaces his older brother. Huge roar from the Waca crowd, backing in their local boy. His first Test Match since Banglalore in March. He’s back into the XI earlier than he thought after a shoulder reconstruction. Gets a big stride in to both the remaining Moeen balls, knocking them on the head.
WICKET! Marsh c Root b Moeen 28 (Australia 248-4)
From absolutely nowhere! Nine taken from Moeen’s first three balls of the day, Marsh whacking him through midwicket then using his feet to clip with utter class. Next ball? He edges to slip! Not much spin, but enough with some extra flight. Tried to almost glide rather than stroke it. Has paid the price. Very good snaffle from Root. Blimey, how they needed that.
74th over: Australia 239-3 (Smith 115, Marsh 20) Overton is at least banging it in. There has been extra bounce from this end throughout the match. Half a shout for LBW from one that really hoops back. It’s high, and there is no review, but it is something at least. Much, much better set.
72nd over: Australia 236-3 (Smith 114, Marsh 18) “They look almost defeated in the field,” says Ed Smith on TMS of the England body language. Overton is outside the leg stump to Smith early in the over, in keeping with the theme. A single taken to cover when he’s a fraction full. Marsh keeps the strike with one to mid-on. Only one maiden this morning. What does Root do?
71st over: Australia 234-3 (Smith 113, Marsh 17) Steven Peter Devereux Smith. To the third ball of Woakes’ spell he is thumping a drive through the gap at cover. He’s absolutely creamed that. With it, he has 1000 runs in the year for the fourth time in the row. Only the second man to do that (Hayden the other, who made it five from 2001-2005, TMS reveals). Again on the pads he gets another single. All four bowlers have struggled with line this morning. Marsh leaving alone for the rest.
Enjoyed this from Geoff earlier today. Malcolm Gladwell says 10,000 hours. Smith 10,000 balls. Neato.
70th over: Australia 229-3 (Smith 108, Marsh 17) Craig Overton for the first time today, the first change of the morning. Replacing Broad from our end. Marsh doesn’t take long to get stuck in, stroking beautifully wide of mid-on. The Perth crowd lap that up. He’s on the pads later in the over to both men, who milk the easiest of singles. No, no, no. 50 partnership is up.
69th over: Australia 223-3 (Smith 107, Marsh 12) Better from Jimmy, gets Smith’s edge to begin. But along the ground. Marsh pushes solidly for another single. Accumulating well. Looks good. Then again, he always does until he doesn’t. Smith defends the rest.
68th over: Australia 221-3 (Smith 106, Marsh 11) Broad to Smith. Barmy Army playing The Great Escape. “That’s pretty telling when you are still ahead in the game,” Ali Martin says next to me. Smith hacks one to fine leg to get down the other end. Marsh does the rest to see out the Broad set. How about this on the West Australian: he has been batting in professional cricket since the millenium bug was a thing, only now finding out he needs glasses. Good grief.
67th over: Australia 220-3 (Smith 105, Marsh 11) The ball after getting to 100, Smith clips a single to square leg. Marsh turns it over to cover. Then Smith pushes to point to keep the strike. This already looks too easy, doesn’t it? Uh oh.
Steve Smith brings up his 22nd Test century!
There it is! With a boundary, of course. Just a tuck to midwicket that trickles to the rope off Anderson’s first ball. Off comes the helmet, a celebration we are so familiar with now. His second ton of the series. One of his very best. 138 balls, 16 boundaries, one six. Seventh against England, third at the WACA. The quickest of his career as well, Andrew Samson on TMS informs me.
66th over: Australia 213-3 (Smith 99, Marsh 10) Shoooooot! I don’t have a clue how Smith does that. From about off-stump he drives perfectly along the carpet, wide of mid-on. Off the back foot, almost. That’s an incredible shot for normal people. To 98 he goes. Earlier in the over he tried something similar and missed, annoying Broad. A single out to square leg moves him to 99 from the last ball. So he’ll keep the strike.
64th over: Australia 208-3 (Smith 94, Marsh 10) Broad running away from us here at the Lillee-Marsh Stand End. Are the cats barking for him today, as Barney put it? Not initially, Smith helping himself to a single past point. Next up he’s on Marsh’s mums and dads, clipping neatly to midwicket for three. Into double figures goes the home town boy. Broad finds his range to Smith, who has to get his bat down low to the final delivery that looks to keep a fraction low.
I neglected to mention the Craig Overton news before play. He had a scan this morning, bowled in the nets in a fitness test, and came through both in good shape. So he’ll bowl today.
63rd over: Australia 204-3 (Smith 94, Marsh 7) Jimmy to Smith. Cue Jerusalem from the Inveratity Stand as the Barmies clear their throats. Heavyweight stuff on the 22 yards that matter. But one slip? Come on, Joe. Belt and braces line and length to begin, then one on the pads clipped away to open the Aussie captain’s account. They now trail by 199. Yes, they have avoided the follow-on. A second slip in for Marsh, for what it is worth. Oh gosh, he looks for a quick single to finish the over. Stay there, mate, says Smith. Or something like that.
They’re out on the field!
As we start, something a bit bold and bolshie from Matt Biss.
“This is the first day in 20 years I have felt that Lara’s record could be really under threat,” he writes. Do go on. “Fast outfield, bowling attack with nagging underlying injuries and no discernible plans to him, enough time in the game to not declare until mid-afternoon tomorrow, the snugness with which it would fit England’s grand narrative of everything going dramatically wrong: it couldn’t happen… could it?”
Changing gears, Anya at #SPOTY
Before we kick-off again here at the Waca, I must give this a plug. Anya Shrubsole is a wonderful human being and a brilliant bowler. She’s also the first woman cricketer to get nominated for the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year gong, coming up on Sunday. Cricket hasn’t had a winner since 2005. Let’s give it a red hot go by mobilising as many people from our sport as we can.
The vote is conducted live on the night, but the #VoteShrubsole is going great guns on social media to rally support. The ECB have bunged together a couple of infographics on their twitter account featuring the the famous moment at Lord’s. GO YOU GOOD THING! #VOTESHRUBSOLE
Barney on Broady.
Some absolute lines in this. My fave: “Rig up an old pumpkin on a splint with a baseball glove and a floppy hat with a hidden tape recording of a measured, pained voice talking about finding your natural game and you could probably save the Test team its share of that £400,000-a-year salary.”
Speaking of Smith… (and Hugh)
“Yes on England needing to get Smith or they’ll get stuffed,” emails Robert Wilson. “Absolutely. He’s a pestilential curse of an opponent (and no one really understands how he’s doing it). But we shouldn’t neglect the glaring possibility that England will get stuffed even if they do get him out.”
He adds a sledge: “You’re asking for contacts in Perth council? I thought you’d been the Aussie Josh Lyman in a previous life? Jeez.” Well, have this then! The first piece of correspondence I’ve had to help is SOMEONE WHO KNOWS HUGH GRANT and is going to email him to lend me a hand. Evening, Hugh.
Opening up on the email is Benedict Carter. “Here in China, the cause of cricket progresses: my Chinese students now know what the Ashes are; can place Australia and England on the map; and they know who Joe Root and Steve Smith are. I have yet to introduce WG Grace, the immortal Wilfred Rhodes or Sir Geoffrey Boycott to them but definitely civilisation advances.”
If you want to teach them how to bat like Smith, check out this brilliant masterclass from Press Association’s man on tour, David Clough. In Guardian row, we laughed loud.
Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts at the WACA (sort of).
Not for the Test. But indulge me, for I’ve been quite consumed by a story I stumbled upon on Thursday. In 2002, a Perth romantic had an idea involving the famous bench from Notting Hill. It carries an touching inscription that Anna Scott (Roberts) reads to William Thacker (Grant) in the film: “For June who loved this garden, from Joseph who always sat besides her.” Anyway, this legend deceided to buy it, fly it to Perth, and give it to his girlfriend.
Sadly, their union didn’t last as long as Scott and Thacker (so I like to believe). So he gave it to the local council anonymously, on the condition that it would sit in Queens Gardens next to the Waca. That is where it has lived since 2006. Isn’t that bloody magnificent? See below photo I took yesterday.
My aim is to now find this mystery man, buy it off him (on the condition that I’d always leave it where it is now) and “give” it to my girlfriend for Christmas. I’ll need a bit of luck to pull that off, but I have persistence. Anyone out there know someone who knows someone in Perth City Council? Or a better idea?
Welcome to day three at the W.A.C.A Ground!
What an utterly spanking day in Perth. I’m rolling up to the dear old ground now and this is the best of the three. One imagines Steve Smith leaping out of bed, pulling back the curtains and whispering to himself: today I’ll ruin them.
That’s what it comes down to for England. If Jimmy finds Smith’s edge first ball today, the visitors flying. But if he is still there at drinks, he’ll probably still will be at tea. As I wrote last night, it’s all about him and he knows it.