Hope for rest of the se­ries

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Sport Second Ashes Test -

desta­bilised by a pair of veteran bowlers was en­ter­tain­ing enough in it­self. But would it re­ally yield re­sults? At the crease, Smith was more ag­i­tated than be­fore, more twitchy. Balls that were rou­tinely dealt with in Bris­bane were caus­ing him trou­ble here. He went for 40 first time round, then took the de­ci­sion Swann claims was based on ego. Rest­ing his bowlers was surely part of Smith’s ra­tio­nale, but in send­ing Aus­tralia in on Mon­day night he ex­posed his bats­men to the great­est threat: an evening session un­der the lights.

Aus­tralia were woe­ful in their sec­ond in­nings, which should pro­vide en­cour­age­ment for Eng­land in Perth, Mel­bourne and Syd­ney. All 11 bats­men scored 20 runs or fewer. Aus­tralia were in two minds be­tween want­ing to stay at the crease for long enough to make an Eng­land vic­tory im­pos­si­ble and rack­ing up a huge lead quickly. In the event they did nei­ther, and so opened the door a crack to Eng­land, who were in­vited to make the 10th high­est suc­cess­ful Test run chase of all time.

With his over-con­fi­dence com­ing back to bite him, Smith found him­self in a des­per­ate quest to stop Eng­land pulling off one of the great Test wins. Both cap­tains gave each other an early Christ­mas gift in Ade­laide. Root gave Aus­tralia a chance to bat first in the match – then watched as his bowlers bowled too short – and Smith threw his bats­men into the dark­ness when Eng­land’s morale was on the floor.

From there, An­der­son found his zip and thrust again to record his first five-wicket haul in Aus­tralia, and Root stepped up to lead Eng­land’s counter-at­tack with 67 unbeaten at close of play. Not only that: sev­eral of Aus­tralia’s bats­men now seem un­threat­en­ing: Us­man Khawaja and Peter Hand­scomb among them. David Warner, mean­while, lacked the ap­pli­ca­tion that Smith re­quired of him af­ter his breezy 87 not out at the Gabba.

Not even the most par­ti­san home fan could say that this Aus­tralia side are as im­pos­ing as the great teams of re­cent his­tory. In the press area here, you can pass Ricky Ponting, Adam Gilchrist and Shane Warne be­fore watch­ing Khawaja or Hand­scomb bat.

Root will feel he re­gained ground on his coun­ter­part but Smith, with these lessons learned, will surely come again.

Pas­sion play: Steve Smith shows his emo­tion (left) and the Barmy Army taunt him over his DRS mis­takes (above)

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