Australia have eased themselves into a promising position with the aim to bat England into submission on day three with two well set batsmen with a huge hunger for runs.
With the team 193-2 Usman Khawaja couldn’t quite make it to his hundred and will resume on 91 not out while Steve Smith made it to 44 not out and in the process scored his 6000th Test match run.
He is the joint second quickest to get there in terms of innings alongside Garry Sobers by taking 111 with Don Bradman out on his own on 68.
Smith is the youngest Australian to get to the landmark and has plenty more in the tank based on what we’ve seen so far. Incredibly more than 10 percent of his career runs have been scored in this series.
Here are five other things that Dean Wilson learned from the day.
1. CURRAN CAN BAT BUT CAN HE BOWL?
One or two people were surprised at the sight of Tom Curran (First Class Average 17.5) walking to the crease ahead of Stuart Broad (Test Average 20.71) and wondered whether the non appearance of a nightwatchman on day one had thrown everything out of kilter. Broad does after all have a Test hundred to his name, even if that was scored more than seven years ago. The truth is that despite Broad’s fifty at the MCG, he has been in terrible form with the bat since 2014 when Varun Aaron hit him in the face with a bouncer. And with the Aussie bowlers ready to pepper him again Curran was probably not a bad shout to come in first and he proved it with a confident 39 from 65 balls. Broad also grabbed a handy 31 to suggest that he has finally found a method for the short stuff. They are however both in the side primarily to bowl and on that score Curran really looks like what he is. An option only when six other bowlers are unavailable.
2. AUSSIE FIELDING A MIXED BAG
When Steve Smith signed up with a conservation group who would adopt 20 koalas each time he took a catch during the Ashes, they all probably wondered whether there would be enough koalas to cope as the skipper picked off chance after chance. As it turned out his catching recently has been shocking with three chances going down in succession. He managed to make amends though with the wicket of Dawid Malan which took an extra special diving effort at 2nd slip away to his left to dismiss him for 62. Mitchell Starc had the pace to allow the ball to carry and Smith did the rest and the celebrations were justified. The reactions were somewhat different to the attempts by Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood to take their catches when they put down Curran and Moeen Ali respectively from two of the easiest chances either will get in their careers. Brad Haddin is the fielding coach and he will be filthy.
3. MOEEN STILL NOT LEARNING
The lack of confidence in Moeen Ali’s cricket can be seen in the way that he got out for 30 to Cummins. He was in. He was settled and he had played some nice looking shots. Normally when Moeen gets to this point he has the confidence to play the hook and pull shot with ease. It was what he did in Brisbane to goo effect before getting out, but such is his lack of belief in his game at the moment he got a ball ripe for just that but instead of attacking it he tried to defend it and got out. Surely he has learned on this trip that defending bouncers is not an option. Either get out of the way or take it on with intent. Holding your bat by your face hoping to defend it is pretty pointless, you are not going to score any runs and there is a chance you’ll get out. That has happened a few times now and Moeen doesn’t appear to have adapted.
4. BOWLING STOCKS DOWN TO BARE BONES
Once Chris Woakes was ruled out of this match by injury England’s bowling attack was always going to be a little weaker, especially with Mason Crane making his debut.
Unfortunately for England that is what transpired in 67 overs of toil as their attack not only failed to take more than two wickets, but found chances few and far to come by too.
James Anderson and Stuart Broad have been given the respect their skills and quality deserve, hence why they have taken the only wickets to fall, while the other three bowlers have been picked off pretty easily by the Aussie batsmen on a pitch absolutely tailor-made for long Test match innings’. This tour has exposed England’s bowling depth quite cruelly, but then so did the last tour of India last winter.
5. CRANE HAS GOT A START
Mason Crane has sent down his first few overs in Test match cricket and while 0-58 from 17 overs isn’t anything to get too worked up about, he will be delighted to have started his bowling career. He got plenty of balls in the right spot and made the Aussies hit good balls for runs. He also sent down a bit of dross that was also put away with ease and released any pressure he was trying to build.
He kept going though and tried to keep tossing it up and giving it a rip much to the delight of the watching Shane Warne who was impressed with Crane’s attitude throughout.
He offered the thoughts that maybe he could release the ball a little more from the fingers and les from the palm of the hand, but it is a start.
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