Smith leaves Eng­land frus­trated once again

▶ But Root says drawn match a ‘fair re­flec­tion’ of his team’s ca­pa­bil­i­ties

The National - News - - SPORT - Agence France-Presse

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.”

EPA

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

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