Ashes 2013: Steve Smith century keeps Australia on top at Oval

 

Fifth Investec Test, Kia Oval (day two):

Australia 492-9d, England 32-0

Match scorecard

Steve Smith struck his first Test century as Australia continued to dictate the course of the final Ashes Test against England.

Smith made an unbeaten 138 as the tourists piled up 492-9 declared against England on a rain-hit second day at The Oval.

England's openers then survived a testing spell from the Australia pace attack in the evening session to reach 32-0 at the close, with Alastair Cook on 17 and Joe Root 13.

On a day when heavy showers and England's slow over-rate tested the crowd's patience, Smith delivered the highlight when he crashed Jonathan Trott for a straight six to reach three figures.

Australians to reach their maiden Test centuries with a six

2013: Steve Smith

2009: Mitchell Johnson

2006: Andrew Symonds

1985: Greg Matthews

1976: Ian Davis

1972: John Benaud

At 24 years and 81 days, Smith became the youngest Australian to score an Ashes century since Ricky Ponting in Leeds in 1997 and all but cemented his place in their team for the first Test of the return series down under in November.

An inconsistent and unorthodox batsman with a Test average under 30 before today, Smith has been in and out of Australia's side since making his debut against Pakistan in 2010.

But just as Shane Watson had done in scoring 176 on Wednesday, he put a mixed series behind him with an innings of power and timing.

For England, it was another deflating day as their chances of winning the series 4-0 effectively evaporated into the south London air.

With Smith, Brad Haddin (30) and the tail-enders pushing Australia towards 500 in the afternoon, Cook's team looked anything but Ashes winners as they were reduced to what appeared to be delaying tactics, much to the annoyance of a capacity crowd who had waited until 14:30 BST to see any play.

James Anderson and Stuart Broad found plenty of movement under cloud cover but failed to follow up on the early dismissal of night-watchman Peter Siddle, who was bowled by a beautiful delivery from Anderson that pitched on middle stump and moved away to hit the top of off.

Test Match Special analysis

"From England's point of view, Broad bowled a touch too short, Anderson was excellent, Swann bowled well although the captain kept him out of the attack for ever, and I can't understand why. He bowled Woakes, a brisk medium pacer, who eventually got one wicket but a guy caught on the boundary, he might just as well have been halfway up the motorway."

Debutant Chris Woakes also managed to beat the bat several times but served up enough bad balls to keep the Australian score ticking along.

Smith drove Anderson through the covers for four to move into the nineties and leapt from 94 to his century with a single swing of the bat, which he watched all the way over the boundary before raising his arms in celebration.

Four balls later, Trott conjured an unlikely breakthrough, when Haddin tried to cut a full delivery and chopped it on to his own stumps to end a partnership of 65.

With Australia taking risks as they pursued a declaration, Woakes finally landed his first Test wicket in his 23rd over when James Faulkner miscued a pull shot to Trott, who took a fine running catch at deep backward square leg.

Mitchell Starc was bowled for 13 by Graeme Swann, who was then twice deposited into the stands by Ryan Harris.

The dangerous tail-ender lashed 33 off 27 balls before he was caught and bowled to give Anderson his fourth wicket moments before Michael Clarke called time on his team's innings.

Clarke's hopes of making a dent in England's fragile top order were denied by a combination of dogged batting from Cook and Root and some off-target bowling from Australia's pace quartet.

The hosts survived 17.3 overs before bad light ended play shortly before the scheduled close.