Steve Smith dug his career and Australias first innings out of serious trouble with his first Test hundred on home soil on Friday as Englands bowling attack failed again to finish off a teetering middle order. After winning the toss and batting for the third consecutive Ashes Test,Australia slumped to 143 for 5 before Smith combined with vice-captain Brad Haddin (55) for 124 runs and with Mitchell Johnson (39 not out) in an unbroken 59-run stand to lift the total to 326 for 6 by stumps.
The first day at the WACA had shades of the opening days in Brisbane and Adelaide,when England took clusters of wickets to have Australia on the verge of a major collapse before letting them off the hook.
Australia responded with big victories in the first two Tests and came into the third match with a chance of reclaiming the Ashes at a venue where England hasnt tasted victory since 1978. No doubt we let it slip … its probably not the first time this series as well weve had them on the ropes to a degree and we havent finished the job, England bowling coach David Saker said. We didnt deliver what we should have delivered today.
With the opposing captains each playing their 100th Tests,there was extra attention on the toss. Clarkes win there gave him the first points in the personal duel but Alastair Cook struck back when he caught the Australia skipper just before lunch. England had the upper hand when Graeme Swann (2/71) dismissed Clarke (24) and David Warner (60) on either side of lunch and Stuart Broad (2/78) removed George Bailey (7).
Smith needed a big score to prove to critics that he deserved his spot and set about doing that with Haddin,who came to the rescue again with his fourth consecutive half century.
Smith said the personal pressure was amplified by Australias position in the game. It was a pretty tough part of the game,theyd taken a few wickets and were pretty high, Smith said. So to dig through there,and get through a few of their big bowlers spells and cash in late,that was the plan.
Bowler to batting star
Smith played five matches in the 2010-11 Ashes series defeat but didnt play another Test for more than two years until he was recalled for the losing tours to India and England from March to August. He scored his first Test century at The Oval in August,an unbeaten 138,but hadnt been in convincing form in Brisbane and Adelaide and was under serious pressure to produce a transformative innings with Australias middle order teetering again.
After taking 16 balls to get off the mark,Smith opened his account with a driven six off Swann. He followed that with another six and 13 boundaries in a 191-ball innings highlighted by excellent footwork to the spinners and pure timing against the seamers.
The fast,bouncy wicket was expected to favor the pacemen but the English attack struggled to maintain the right length for much of the opening day and conceded 43 boundaries and five sixes.
The Australians offset the rapid run-scoring,though,by losing wickets at regular intervals. Chris Rogers (11) was run out attempting a needless single by a direct hit from Jimmy Anderson at mid-on with the total at 13,and Broad enticed an edge from Shane Watson (18),with Swann taking a superb catch above his head at second slip,to make it 52 for 2.
Warner and Clarke,who was later awarded the ICC cricketer of the year,added 54 for the third wicket before Cook brought off-spinner Swann into the attack six minutes before the end of the morning session.
It worked almost instantly,when Clarke danced down the wicket to Swanns second ball and clipped a catch to Cook at short midwicket.
Gilchrist,hall of famer
Perth: The International Cricket Council inducted Australias legendary wicketkeeper-batsman Adam Gilchrist into its Hall of Fame during the tea interval of the ongoing third Ashes Test. Gilchrist received the commomeration in front of a large and appreciative crowd.
Gilchrist became the 71st male member and the 19th male Australian cricketer in the Hall of Fame.
I am joining three men whom I played alongside,Steve Waugh,Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath and many of whom I have faced in on-field battles. I must say I am grateful that I am now joining Wasim Akram on the same team rather than having to face him in a bowling attack, said Gilchrist.
Brief scores: Australia 326 for 6 (S Smith 103 batting,D Warner 60,B Haddin 55; G Swann 2/71,S Broad 2/78) vs England.