Ashes 2019: Smith, Wade centuries put Australia in command

England was left needing 385 runs to win with the final day's play left in the first Ashes Test.

Steve Smith and Matthew Wade added 126 runs for the fifth wicket, with both hitting centuries.   -  Getty Images

An aggregate of 376 runs were scored in 88 overs on a day that Australia dominated and put itself in the driver's seat with an excellent batting performance. It added 363 runs to its overnight score of 124 for three, declaring its second innings on 487 for seven, with James Pattinson and Pat Cummins adding 78 runs for the eighth wicket. England was, therefore, set a formidable target of 398 to win the first Test of the 2019 Ashes. Openers Jason Roy and Rory Burns negotiated the seven overs before stumps while taking England to 13 for no loss.

Overnight Australian batsmen Steve Smith and Travis Head added 81 runs before they were separated, but England could not stitch back-to-back wickets for much of the day, allowing Australia to score freely and get itself to a big score. Head fell soon after getting to his half-century, edging a legcutter from Ben Stokes to Jonny Bairstow behind the stumps.

Smith, though, continued batting with an air of invincibility. Unlike his century in the first innings, he batted with a greater fluency this time round, indicated by his strike rate of 68.59. The exaggerated shuffle across the stumps kept putting off the English bowlers, who were punished every time they erred with their lines and lengths. Even Stuart Broad, England's best bowler in the first innings, struggled to provide control and was off colour for much of the day, forcing Joe Root to bowl Stokes more compared to his two specialist bowlers - Broad and Chris Woakes.

As it happened

Smith stroked his way to 98 not out at lunch and just a few minutes into the post-lunch session, reached three figures with a stunning cover drive off Broad. He celebrated by removing his batting helmet and waving his bat joyously towards the Australia changing room. And while there was applause from a packed crowd, there were also renewed chants of “Crying on the telly, we saw you crying on the telly” in a reference to the emotional press conference Smith gave in Sydney after he was sent home from South Africa.

“When he goes out to bat, it’s almost like he’s in a trance-like state,” former Australia captain Waugh told Channel Nine.

“He knows exactly what he’s trying to do, exactly what the opposition are trying to do... he analyses every ball and it’s like a computer, he spits out the answer,” added Waugh, now a mentor to the Australia squad.

Matthew Wade, playing his comeback Test, batted with a great deal of authority and scored freely right from the start of his innings. Having to contend with the rough outside the left-hander's off-stump against the legspin of Joe Denly, Wade made good use of the sweep shot to give himself the best chance of surviving and scoring runs.

He got to his fifty with a reverse sweep off Root, who was in the middle of an extended spell after lunch. Wade was given out lbw to Broad by umpire Joel Wilson on 69 but he immediately reviewed the decision and the ball tracker showed the ball to be going over the stumps. The second new ball, however, gave England the wicket it craved all day.

Woakes teased Smith with a fuller delivery wide of off-stump and Smith, uncharacteristically, drove loosely. The outside edge was found and Bairstow took his second catch of the day. Smith was dismissed for 142 following his 144 in the first innings, the first time he has made two hundreds in a Test.

Wade went on to make a century, again reverse-sweeping Joe Root to the third-man boundary for a four. Wade added 76 runs for the sixth wicket with captain Tim Paine before he picked out deep square leg off Ben Stokes. Paine played a good innings of 34 before Moeen Ali got one to spin and sneak through the gate between bat and pad.

Australia was 409 for seven at that stage, though the lead had gone beyond 300 runs. James Pattinson played an innings of enterprise walking in at No. 8 and made an unbeaten 48-ball 47, while new-ball bowling partner made a 33-ball 26 to stretch Australia's lead to 397. The pair added 33 runs in the three overs before the declaration, which came right after Pattinson had lifted Denly for a six over long on.

Only three times has a side made more than 150 in the fourth innings to win a Test at Edgbaston. Smith, meanwhile, is just the fifth Australia batsman to score a hundred in both innings of an Ashes Test, following Warren Bardsley (1909), Arthur Morris (1946/47), Steve Waugh (1997) and Matthew Hayden (2002/03).