Smith piles on agony for England
LONDON: Steven Smith's maiden Test double century ensured Australia maintained their grip on the second Test against England at Lord's on Friday. Smith's 215 was the cornerstone of Australia's first innings total of 566-8 declared that also featured opener Chris Rogers' Test-best 173. Yet Stuart Broad (4-83) led something of an England fightback before Joe Root took two cheap wickets, including that of Smith. Australia captain Michael Clarke declared in the first over after tea on the second day when Mitchell Johnson holed out off Broad.
In reply, England, who need 367 just to avoid the follow-on, were tottering at 78-4 in 24 overs with Mitchell Johnson claiming the wickets of Gary Ballance (23) and Joe Root (one) after Mitchell Starc had dismissed opener Adam Lyth (naught) with the second ball of the innings. In between, Jose Hazzlewood bowled Ian Bell (one).
Australia resumed on a commanding 337-1. Rogers was then 158 not out and Smith, dropped in the slips on 50 by Ian Bell on Thursday, unbeaten on 129. Friday's first ball produced drama and concern in equal measure when Rogers was struck on the side of the helmet as he turned his head away from a James Anderson delivery.
Rogers needed several minutes' on-field treatment. Two balls later, however, the 37-year-old left-hander square-drove Anderson for four. Broad, Anderson's new-ball partner, eventually pierced Rogers' defence with a nip-back ball that took the inside edge and pad before crashing into the stumps to leave Australia 362-2. Rogers batted for over six and a half hours, faced 300 balls and struck 28 fours. His stand with Smith topped the previous Australia record Test partnership at Lord's of 260 shared by Mark Taylor and Michael Slater in 1993.
Smith, who until twice making 33 in England's 169-run win in the first Test in Cardiff last week was ranked as the world's No 1 Test batsman, had gone to his 10th century in 30 Tests and sixth in his last eight matches at this level by the time play resumed on Friday. Clarke fell cheaply when, on seven, he pulled Mark Wood to Ballance at square leg. Broad dismissed Adam Voges and Mitchell Marsh but Smith kept going.
Smith, who was out for 199 against the West Indies in Kingston last month, went to 200 when he whipped Moeen Ali off his pads for a 24th four in 336 balls faced, with his more than eight-hour innings also featuring one six. He then posted Australia's second highest individual Test score at Lord's behind Don Bradman's 254 in 1930. But his hopes of breaking that 85-year-old record ended in very modern fashion when he was lbw trying to reverse-sweep Root. Peter Nevill made a breezy 45 on his Test debut, having been called into the side when first-choice wicket-keeper Brad Haddin withdrew for family reasons.