Ashes fifth Test: Sky Sports picks out the best bits from day two at the Kia Oval
Last Updated: 22/08/13 11:29pm
Steve Smith: Leaves the field after his 138 not out in the fifth Ashes Test
Rain threatened to ruin day two of the fifth and final Ashes Test of the summer, but by the end nothing could dampen Steve Smith's delight at the Kia Oval.
Australia had to wait until 2.30pm on Thursday to resume on 307-4, but once play got underway Smith - unbeaten on 66 overnight - was the star of the show.
The all-rounder went on to reach his maiden Test century, helping the visitors reach 492-9 before skipper Michael Clarke declared, leaving their opponents facing a tricky spell before the close and in fading light, too.
England managed to come through unscathed, though, openers Alastair Cook (17 not out) and Joe Root (13no) surviving with few alarms. They had to face four bowlers, including three overs from Australia debutant James Faulkner.
Here we take a look back at the pick of the action on a shortened second day...
Smith's moment at last
Steve Smith was the player of the day as he registered his maiden Test century.
The best things come to those who wait. For Smith, he had to be patient for 22 innings before finally reaching three figures in Test cricket. There had been near misses in the past, a previous top score of 92 during a tough tour for Australia in India earlier this year, while he threw away the chance to hit a ton earlier in this Ashes series when making 89 at Old Trafford. Then, in Manchester, a hundred was seemingly there for the taking until an ugly swipe at a delivery from Graeme Swann saw him sky a catch to Jonny Bairstow at mid-wicket. At the Oval he also couldn't resist having a go; Jonathan Trott's very medium pace tempted him on 94, only this time Smith made superb contact, launching a drive over long-on for a maximum. It was a glorious way to reach a landmark. His delight at finally getting there showed just how pivotal a moment it could be in the 24-year-old's career.
Smith's unbeaten knock of 138 not only put Australia in a strong position in the match, it also secured his place in their top five for the return series against England Down Under this winter. That was the opinion of Michael Atherton, who has been impressed by the all-rounder's performances during what has been a tough trip. "He is an odd player because he is fidgety and has got a funny technique, but at the point of impact he looks like he's got a lot of time and he has got a lot of nice shots - he plays a lovely pull shot with a full extension of the arm," said the former England captain. Atherton was not so enthusiastic about the home side's field settings in the final session on day two, stating it was "quite humiliating" to see them with nine men on the boundary as they waited for the declaration to come.
Ducking and weaving
Nasser Hussain, Michael Atherton and Andrew Strauss talk about the best way to play the short ball.
"The key with this is trying to get out the way of the ball," said Nasser Hussain in the Ashes Zone, right before Andrew Strauss produced a huge first serve that hit Nasser in the helmet. Such was the speed off leftie Strauss' racquet (suggesting he could have had a career on the ATP Tour had cricket not worked out for him), the tennis ball actually became lodged in between the peak and grill. It at least meant the demonstration ended in tears of laughter, rather than tears of pain. Former England captains Michael Atherton, Hussain and Strauss all talked about their experiences of dealing with the short ball, including the latter's recollection of being hit by a Brett Lee bumper back in that sensational Ashes series of 2005. Should you duck or weave? The trio gave their opinions in a masterclass on playing the short ball.
Hosts still hoping
England coach David Saker remains upbeat as after Australia declared on 492-9 on a rain-hit day two at the Kia Oval.
England may have endured a tough time of it in the field, but bowling coach David Saker remained confident at the end of play that they could still fight their way back into the contest. "We're a bit behind at the minute but there's still a long way to go, (it is) a very good batting wicket so we hope we can push forward from here," he told Sky Sports. Saker also insisted it was too early to judge England's two debutants, Chris Woakes and Simon Kerrigan. The former did take a wicket, finishing with 1-96, while spinner Kerrigan went unused during Thursday, meaning he sent down just eight overs in the Australian innings.