One Australian wicket for 346 runs summed up England’s misery on day three of the third Test in Perth.
Having resumed their innings on 202-3, captain Steve Smith expertly moved on beyond his double century while Mitchell Marsh took on the role of enforcer to hammer 181 runs off 243 balls; a strike rate of almost 80. Australia went into the pavilion on 549-4 on the back of this stand, now worth 301.
Once again, there was a flicker of hope for England when Shaun Marsh fell to Moeen Ali on 28, 13 overs into the day’s play, but there was no follow-up to keep that hope alive. Instead, they found Mitchell Marsh in particularly belligerent form, racing to his maiden hundred off 130 balls (17×4) and his 150 off 188, with another eight fours. Just to rub it in, Marsh is looking good for his maiden double.
Smith was almost sedate in comparison, taking 300 balls for his 200 and moving on to 229, his highest Test scored since the 215 he scored against England at Lord’s in 2015. He had his moments, with a couple of edges falling short of the slips, but there was never a real chance as he registered the fastest Test century of his 22.
It is a measure of his mastery that, at the Gabba, he ground out his slowest century, showing his ability to read and adapt to the situation.
Australia, who have scored at 3.6 an over, now have a lead of 146, and the only question out there is, when will they declare?
They are now in a good position to wrap up the Ashes series with two to play; whereupon they can focus on their next Test assignment: against South Africa, starting in March.
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