Smith leaves England frustrated once again
▶ But Root says drawn match a ‘fair reflection’ of his team’s capabilities
I’m enjoying [batting]. It’s a shame we had to call it off in the last hour. I could have had another hour out there. It was good fun ... hopefully I can end the series really well in Sydney STEVE SMITH Australia batsman
Steve Smith again proved the immovable obstacle for England as he posted another century to bat out a draw for Australia in the fourth Ashes Test in Melbourne yesterday, denying the tourists their first win of the series.
The Australia captain stonewalled the English bowling attack to remain unconquered on 102 for his third century of the series as the Test petered out to a draw late on the final day.
He joined Don Bradman as the only batsmen to score centuries in four consecutive Melbourne Tests.
Smith has now amassed 604 runs in six innings at an average of 151.
“I’m enjoying [batting]. It’s a shame we had to call it off in the last hour. I could have had another hour out there,” Smith said.
“It was good fun ... I feel like I’m hitting the ball really well and hopefully I can end the series really well in Sydney.”
Australia lost only two wickets on the fifth day and coasted through after lunch to finish on 263 for four, with Mitchell Marsh – not out on 29 off 166 balls – providing support for Smith.
The hosts have already clinched the Ashes with an unassailable 3-0 lead in the series ahead of the fifth and final Test in Sydney, which starts on Thursday.
It was just the second drawn Boxing Day Test in 20 years, although there was criticism of the lifeless state of the Melbourne Cricket Ground dropin pitch.
Smith said he was disappointed with it, and said: “It was flat. It was hard to get out, but it was also hard to score runs.
“It’s a bit of a pity really. Hopefully they can find something to do with this wicket, Boxing Day is a huge occasion and I don’t know if many people want to come and see one of those flat tracks every year.”
England captain Joe Root said he was pleased overall with his side’s efforts as they ended a run of eight consecutive losses in Ashes Tests in Australia.
“I am very proud about the way we went about it,” he said.
“Off three very difficult games and to put in a performance like that is really pleasing and that’s what we’re about as a side. That’s a fair reflection of what we are capable of as a team.”
Smith and Marsh comfortably batted through after lunch to prevent England from going for the win after leading by 164 runs on the first innings, following a record-breaking unbeaten 244 from opener Alastair Cook.
Smith, who frustrated England with an unconquered 141 in Brisbane and his Testbest 239 in Perth, led the salvage operation in a 275-ball vigil after losing batting partners David Warner and Shaun Marsh before lunch.
Cook was named man-of-thematch after carrying his bat in England’s first innings.
It was the highest score by a batsman carrying his bat in Test history, bettering New Zealander Glenn Turner’s 223 not out against the West Indies in Kingston in 1972.
The last Englishman to carry his bat through a Test innings was Mike Atherton with 94 against New Zealand in 1997.
Cook also surpassed the highest score by a visiting batsman in a Test match at the famous MCG, bettering the 208 by West Indian great Viv Richards in 1984.
“There’s a bit of disappointment that we couldn’t get over the line ultimately,” Cook said of the result.
“Going back to Brisbane it was even stevens and then we got blown away on day four, similarly in Adelaide and Perth we put a day together, a day and a half together, but not managed to back it up.
“In this match we have done that – yes, the wicket was a bit slower but we competed really well and we can take some confidence to Sydney.”
Steve Smith proved a thorn to England once again as the batsman’s 275-ball stand helped Australia force a draw in their Ashes Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground