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England v Australia

Colossal Steve Smith hits his third century of the series

Rich Evans by Rich Evans
@Rich_Wisden 2 minute read

Steve Smith secured his 26th Test century before lunch on day two of the fourth Ashes Test at Old Trafford – his 11th in Ashes cricket and his third in the series.

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Returning to the side after missing out at Headingley due to concussion inflicted by a vicious bouncer from Jofra Archer at Lord’s, England’s fast bowlers – particularly the Barbados-born speedster – peppered him with several short-pitched deliveries on Thursday morning. Archer was noticeably quicker than yesterday, when the crosswind perhaps hampered him.

Smith edged the first ball of the day just short of third slip and offered series-nemesis Archer a caught-and-bowled chance after he failed to get over a full toss, but there was elegance in and amongst the discomforts and eccentricities.

England’s bowlers did get two just rewards; Stuart Broad trapped Travis Head in-front to make it 183-4, and Matthew Wade, who made 16 from 45 deliveries, never truly settled, eventually gifting Joe Root a simple catch at mid-on off Jack Leach with a wild swipe.

Leach was yielding some impressive turn and bounce towards the backend of the session, but Australia reached the lunch interval at 245-5, with Smith raising his bat minutes before the break.

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